Injured teen's parents, medical experts encourage parents to talk to children about 'car surfing'

The parents and doctors who treated an Edmond teen critically injured when he was thrown from a vehicle while car surfing said Wednesday they hope parents will talk about the activity with their kids.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Published: April 10, 2013

Police said they will turn over their findings to the district attorney's office this week. Prosecutors will decide whether to file charges against Runnels — who doesn't have a driver's license — or any of the passengers in the SUV, including the 18-year-old owner of the vehicle, Alexander Gambel.

‘Dangerous toys'

Phil and Shelley Smith said they were shocked when they found out their son was car surfing.

“We weren't aware of car surfing or that we needed to talk to our son about that,” Shelley Smith said.

Their main concern was Luke's health, but Phil Smith said he couldn't believe his son did something so reckless.

“I was talking to a friend, and I asked, ‘Did we do things like that when we were kids?'” Phil Smith said. “We rode in the back of pickup trucks. We held on to the fenders of cars while we rode our bikes. We used a rope to ride behind a car on our skateboards. I guess we were lucky.”

Luke should fully recover, but the process will be slow. The biggest concern is his traumatic brain injury, similar to those commonly suffered by soldiers wounded in roadside bomb attacks. Such injuries can cause behavioral issues in addition to physical symptoms.

“It's going to be a gradual process,” Shelley Smith said. “We are going to ease him back into school and everyday life.”

The Smiths said they hope their son's injury can serve as a warning to other parents to discuss car surfing with their kids.

Lewis said young people with a sense of invincibility are a dangerous mix when they start playing with cars, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and other motorized equipment.

“They are in charge of very dangerous toys,” he said.

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