Car surfing leads to tragedy

One day before his 25th birthday, Jody Rud made the fatal decision to “car surf” on his Pontiac Sunfire while his friend took the wheel.

“This is an incredibly dangerous stunt that involves standing on the rood of a moving vehicle without any safety equipment or attachment to the vehicle,” explained Const. Steve Holmes, Monday.

Shortly after 1 a.m., June 11, the 26-year-old driver lost control, and the car rolled down an embankment 10 kilometres up Bear Creek Main Road, throwing Rud from the roof.

Rud, who had made a name for himself during his years at UBC Okanagan for doing everything from organizing Remembrance Day ceremonies to working on homelessness initiatives, died at the scene as a result of his injuries.

There was no evidence suggesting the use or influence or drugs or alcohol, but his long-time friend, who was in the city from Estevan, Sask., was arrested at the scene.

Police are recommending charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal negligence causing death, said Holmes.

He noted the friend was released from custody on a promise to appear for a court date in December.

“He faces imprisonment,” noted Holmes, adding that although Rud may have chosen to get on the roof of the car himself, it’s his friend’s decision to drive that are cause for police to recommend criminal charges.

That said, the story of a young man dying, following the decision to take on an adrenaline-fuelled risk, sounds all too familiar to Scott Walker, whose son died two days after his 21st birthday from a skateboarding accident.

Since then he’s taken to promoting SmartRisk, a program that advocates for the use of helmets and due care and attention when the temptation to take on high risk activities is overwhelming.

And, while that’s one way to deal with the risks inherent to a more physically adept and aggressive generation, he’s not sure if it can counter the culture growing around taking bolder risks.

“YouTube and all these things glorify these risky behaviours,” he said.

“When I was young, your friends might have known you’d done something, but now someone takes a picture and the world knows. Kids are cheering it on and not even thinking of consequences.”

In fact, simply typing the words “car-surfing” into YouTube yields more than 5,000 videos of various attempts at the stunt, which is growing in popularity and taking more casualties along the way.

“We all did crazy things, and we’re fortunate we can get through it,” he said, adding he hopes more young people will just minimize the chance of injury, not stop taking risks entirely.



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