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Trunk Riding Results In 14-Year-Old Boy’s Accidental Death

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James E. Ballidis
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Lake Forest authorities received a report of an unconscious boy in the parking lot of La Tierra Elementary School on June 13, 2010. Paramedics arrived on the scene to find 14-year-old Nestor Barrientos-Macias still breathing. They transported him to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was pronounced brain dead. He died the following Tuesday.

While it was initially thought that the boy had sustained serious head injuries from a skateboard accident, authorities later discovered that the boy had been attempting a dangerous stunt known as “trunk riding.”  Death caused by trunk riding is a common occurrence according to California injury lawyer James Ballidis.  "We have had to handle several of these cases in the past.  They are a real tragedy of kids trying to have fun in a dangerous way."

After receiving a tip from a 5-year-old witness, authorities concluded that Barrientos-Macias was one of three boys riding in the open trunk of another 17-year-old boy’s car. As the car left the parking lot, Barrientos-Macias fell out of the trunk, hitting his head.

The cause of Barrientos-Macias’ fatal head injuries was initially ambiguous because the 17-year-old Mission Viejo boy fled the scene of the accident. Authorities were unable to piece together what happened until the young witness came forward.

The 17-year-old boy has been booked on suspicion of felony hit-an-run and vehicular manslaughter.

While hit-and-run accidents are common in California—with 247 fatalities and 22,091 injuries resulting from such collisions in 2008 alone—trunk riding is encountered less often. The dangerous activity can most closely be aligned with “car surfing,” a term introduced in the 1980s to describe a form of thrill seeking in which an individual attempts to ride, or “surf,” the exterior of a vehicle as it is driven by another person. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, spanning the years of 1990 to 2008, 75 percent of car surfing injuries were reported in the Midwest and the South. Males accounted for most of the injuries, especially those between the ages of 15 and 19 years.

Given the recent variation of car surfing that occurred in Lake Forest, perhaps local governments and schools should make an effort to increase public awareness of this dangerous phenomenon. Warnings by law enforcement could also serve as a deterrent, especially when coupled with legislation penalizing those found guilty of car surfing.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nestor Barrientos-Macias’ family during this difficult time.

As a California injury lawyer, we have been helping the victims of accidents throughout Southern California for over 35 years. We would like to wish your family a safe summer. Should you need us, feel free to call us at 866-981-5596 or visit our firm site dedicated to informing you of the latest California injury and damages rights..

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