Qualifying for a Darwin Award in Wisconsin

Charged with suspicion of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle

Just as they have for the past several summers, Shawn Swanson and his buddies from St. Paul Johnson High School headed to northwestern Wisconsin for a weekend of boating, fishing and hanging around the bonfire.

On Saturday night they took up car surfing — and it cost the 21-year-old Swanson his life and leaves one of his friends facing the prospect of going to prison…

The 21-year-old driver was arrested on suspicion of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. He was released from jail after posting bond Monday and awaits charges.

My last text to [Shawn] before he left was don’t do anything dumb . . . I told him I love him, have a good time and be safe,” said Swanson’s mother, Renee, before sending him on his way to “the highlight of every summer with him.”

Shawn Swanson was on his stomach atop the SUV — his four friends below inside — and they were “going faster than they should’ve been,” his mother said, when he fell off and hit his head on the pavement…

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that its analysis of news media reports identified 58 car-surfing deaths and 41 people injured in the United States from 1990 to August 2008. The agency added that most of the car-surfing reports came from the Midwest and the South, and most involved males and those ages 15 to 19.

The usual problem with Darwin Award candidates can’t be avoided. The victim was a nice kid on his way to a holiday weekend with his best friends. Doesn’t make the risk to his life any less – nor the deadly result.

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