October 20, 2011

Car Surfing

Why this seemingly silly thing can mean serious trouble.

Justin: Check out these videos. They are all over the internet. They show young people balancing on top of, or sometimes alongside, moving cars. It is called car surfing. And though it may look fun, it can be deadly. I met up with a Florida family that is raising awareness about it after losing their son in a car surfing accident.

This is Cameron Bieberle, a first-born son, a big brother, and a good friend.

“He just wanted to make everyone happy. That’s just what he cared about most.”

Justin: But the rest of us will never get to know him. On March 3rd, 2008 around 11:30pm, Cameron was car surfing, riding alongside an SUV in a shopping cart in this parking lot. His friend, Sean, was in the passenger’s seat, and a man named Michael Smith was behind the wheel. It didn’t take long for their good time to go wrong.

It has been three years since Cameron’s death. What do you remember about that day?

“About 2 o’clock in the morning, we heard a knock at the door. I thought it was Cameron. I thought maybe he had locked himself out. You want to take over from there?”

“And so the highway patrol had knocked on the door around 2 am, and after we let them in, they informed us of the news.”

Justin: The news: Cameron fell from the shopping cart and hit his head on the pavement. The injury took his life.

“I was just in complete and total shock.”

“I just couldn’t believe it.”

Justin: Smith, who was driving the SUV, was sentenced to four years in prison for vehicular homicide.

When you think back at where you are in your life right now, and knowing Cameron’s not with you to share these steps, how does that feel?

“I mean, it sucks. And, I mean, Cameron was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. We were friends since the 6th grade up until my senior year when he died. Now, I’m a junior in college and I just turned 21. And I had to go visit him at the cemetery, like, I didn’t go out partying with one of my best friends, I was at his grave site, just sitting there. I mean, talking to him and no response back.”

Justin: For the past three years, Cameron’s friends and family have been coming to this cemetery to visit him.

“For a year, I went to the cemetery every day. I went to bed crying and I woke up crying.”

“There was an oblivious joy in my life that will never come back.”

“It’s been very difficult.”

Justin: Car surfers are typically teen males who ride on the hoods, roofs and along the side of moving cars for fun. Research from the Centers for Disease Control found as many as 58 deadly cases of car surfing and 41 injuries from 1990 to 2008. But, there is no national tracking of car surfing deaths and fatalities, so CDC officials believe there could be many more out there who have been hurt or killed because of car surfing.

“I don’t think he knew how dangerous this was. And that is why we want to let everybody know.”

Justin: Until Cameron’s death, the Bieberles and Jeana had never ever heard of car surfing. Now, they are telling whoever will listen just how dangerous it is, and what it has taken from them.

“There’s consequences for the person that’s car surfing. And there’s consequences for the person driving the vehicle. And, you know, it’s a no-win situation.”

“It’s been three years later and it affects me daily. Daily, I think about Cameron.”

“This was his necklace. I wear it every day. Every day, I get up and I look in the mirror and I know that I’m wearing it and he’s not and it just hurts.”

“I just want someone else to be able to protect themselves and know the consequences of this action.”

Justin Finch, Channel One News.


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