PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - A 16-year-old Palm Beach Gardens girl remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday night after falling from the roof of a moving vehicle Thursday. The teen was taking part in a dangerous stunt known as 'car surfing', according to police.
Hannah Huntoon's parents have asked staff at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach not to release any new information about their daughter's condition. At last check, Huntoon was in critical but stable condition.
Thursday evening's accident is taking a toll on Huntoon's family and her friends. Growing up, Michelle Wagner, 16, was Huntoon's best friend. "She's strong," said Wagner. "I know she can get through it."
Wagner and other teens who know Huntoon know accidents happen, but said they believe that Huntoon's injuries could have been prevented. "She probably could have been smarter about it, maybe realized that something bad could have happened," said Wagner.
Huntoon, a sophomore at Palm Beach Gardens Community High School, was standing on top of a 2008 Toyota Corolla, police said, driven by a friend. Huntoon was 'car surfing', investigators said, when her friend navigated the car around a corner. Huntoon fell off and her head slammed against the pavement, authorities said.
Some teens said car surfing is more common among young people than most others think. "I've had a few of my friends do it," said Wagner. "One of my friends got a concussion from it. You should really think about it before you do it," she said.
Why would some teens attempt something so dangerous? They said those who do it likely want to break the rules and get away with it. "The feeling of doing it even when parents say no, just to do it anyway to feel like they are something better," said Gina Crittenden, 16, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens.
Experts believe that parents need to warn their children of the real consequences of their actions. "Let them know that with all these things that can happen, they can die and that's real," said Fran Sherman, a Palm Beach County licensed psychotherapist. "If that happened to them, you really couldn't live as a parent. How do you go forward if something tragic happens to your child?" said Sherman.
Palm Beach Gardens police said charges are possible in this incident, though officials with the department will not say who involved would have charges filed against them.
Huntoon's family, meanwhile, is preparing for a grueling few days, or even months, ahead. "The doctors and the nurses are doing everything that they can and we remain hopeful," said Beth Abernethy, Huntoon's aunt.