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Man charged in fatal 'car surfing' accident

Published September 13, 2003

TAMPA - Sheriff's deputies on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old Riverview man and charged him with DUI manslaughter in the death of a Brandon teenager in March.

Early on March 27, Christopher C. Woodke of 1975 Amberwood Drive was driving a 1990 Toyota Supra on Windhorst Road while a passenger, Jesse Sextro, 17, indulged in a stunt called "car surfing," sheriff's deputies said. Car surfing involves a person riding on the roof of a vehicle in motion.

When Woodke entered a sharp curve, he lost control and Sextro was thrown off the car and killed.

Investigators discovered that Woodke had been taking prescription medication and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14 percent. Florida law presumes a level of 0.08 percent is too high to drive safely.

Car surfing deaths have occurred around the world as people imitate the stunt that has appeared in movies and television shows, including the MTV program Jackass.

"It's always depicted as being something very cool, macho, not too dangerous," said Dr. Timothy Peterson, an emergency room physician in Des Moines, Iowa, who co-wrote a study on car surfing for the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The reality, he said, is that a fall off a vehicle traveling 20 or 30 mph can be fatal.

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