Teen faces manslaughter charge for car surfing stunt gone bad.

Bad Idea: Allowing your 15 year old friend to climb on top of the SUV so he can car surf.
Worse Idea: Climbing out the driver’s window to join him leaving a 14 year old girl in the passenger’s seat to try and steer the vehicle.

heraldtribune.com: Southwest Florida’s Information Leader

According to police records, Martin, a senior at Charlotte High, was driving a sport utility vehicle that night in a remote and sparsely populated area of North Port. With him were Trowbridge and three 14-year-old girls.

Martin stopped the SUV to allow Trowbridge to climb on top, according to police records, and then began driving around.

Martin then slowed the vehicle, according to the report, and asked a 14-year-old girl who was riding in the front seat to take the wheel while he climbed onto the roof with Trowbridge.

The vehicle began to drift off the roadway and the girl reached across the vehicle and attempted to steer from the passenger seat using one arm.

The vehicle continued drifting, so the girl climbed across the center console, slid into the driver’s seat and attempted to take control. Instead of stepping on the brake, however, she pressed the gas.

The vehicle accelerated to 50 or 60 mph and the girl lost control, the police said last year.

When the girl tried to steer back onto the roadway, she turned too sharply, causing the vehicle to roll and throwing both Martin and Trowbridge onto the roadway.

Trowbridge died three days later at a St. Petersburg hospital. Martin and the three girls suffered minor injuries.

I’d say this qualifies for a decent shot at this year’s Darwin Awards.

71 thoughts on “Teen faces manslaughter charge for car surfing stunt gone bad.

  1. I can’t help but feel sorry for the 14-year-old girl who was likely coerced into it, and now gets to live with the consequences.

  2. I suppose that since the girls were only 14 and the boys, 15 and 17, we can assume the girls were the ones coerced into riding with them. Did the girls know that a bit of car-surfing was on the agenda? If yes, then they’re idiots. If not, then they’re still idiots for getting in a car with (I assume) a drunk kid behind the wheel.

  3. I know the girls were coerced in this instance. That’s why I didn’t say “the” girl and “the” boys. My first sentence was a general statement about how we view the actions of girls and boys. The second sentance further clarifies this by stating what I believe would happen if the roles were reveresed. That is, if the 15 and 17 year old surfers were girls and the 14 year old was a boy.

  4. But, how did the vehicle remain at speed while Martin gets out of the moving vehicle and the hapless passenger slides across the console and into the driver’s seat?  Under about 30MPH you cannot set the speed control.

    On the other hand this missing detail adds further credentials for a nomination of this event for a Darwin award.

    I’d suggest one condition of being nominated for a Darwin award is that evidence must be submitted along with the story that both the nominee (if surviving the event) and the parents of the nominee have been sterilized.

  5. In my own defense, I was basing coersion on age. I’m guessing the 14 and 15-year-old were taking their lead from the 17-year-old. I’d put him in jail, but, you know, he’s dead and all.

  6. How stupid must you be to do something like that it’s like thoes people who train surf what idiots. and the girl should have stoped him form getting out to join his friend he should be in jail for being stupid.

  7. Yeah, um, that wasn’t too clever. I think I’ll second that Darwin nomination. And the girl’s are probably struggling to get into a university in the next couple of years too…

  8. I’m surprised by some of the comments made. There is only one thing to be said about it: We all did some really stupid stuff when we were young.
    Luck had it if:
    1> Nobody got hurt
    2> Nobody got caught

    I’m not casting an judgement on anyone who commented here, but c’mon… adolescence is that time in life when we know everything, but we are dumbasses.

  9. True Covie, but there’s dumb and then just plain idiotic. I was dumb and took a lot of chances when it was only my own life involved but I never did nor ever will consciously pull some stunt that could end up hurting or killing someone else.

    I hope that does not make me the exception instead of the rule.

  10. Well, I know first hand the dangers of car surfing.  I on Oct. 27, 2002, fell off the hood, on my head while the car was going 25 mph.  I am alive but had a traumatic brain injury leaving me with right side weakness, short term memory problems and aphasia among other things.  While I coun’t DREAM of charging the girl who drove me for ANYTHING, I can’t imagine that the guy being charged with manslaughter.  Maybe I’m different, but I did it, and have to live with my own consequence.  I couldn’t imagine my friend, who I am still good friends with, to be charged with anything.  When I read this I was shocked.

  11. Well, excuse me, jackass.  I was in that fucking vehicle and in that accident.  You weren’t there.  It’s sites like this that make me hate people.

  12. By the way.  We didn’t know it was going to happen.. the girls.. and no one was drunk or high.

  13. You’re right, I wasn’t there and no one thinks you had any idea that the accident was going to happen. Or at least we hope you didn’t, because if you did and you went ahead with the stunt anyway then you really WOULD be a complete dumbass.

    The point being you should THINK about your actions before you engage in them so you don’t end up killing someone accidentally. It’s your complete lack of thought about your actions that resulted in the death of one of your friends. It’s that sort of idiotic non-thinking on the part of a pretend-cop that cost the life of my best friend of 23 years over a year ago. Don’t be a DUMBASS and I won’t end up writing about you on my site.

  14. Okay.  For one, I was not the girl driving.  That was my best friend.. so don’t even think I could’ve stopped it.  Did anyone think that maybe we told her to stop but she didn’t listen..?

  15. I stopped by your blog and read up on your entries about it and I owe you an apology as it’s clear from what you’ve written that you did try to dissuade both Chris from getting up there in the first place as well as to get Bianca to stop the truck. It’s clear you’re not the dumbass here, but Errol I have no sympathy for. He deserves whatever the law throws at him.

    I hope you have better friends in the future, for your sake if nothing else.

  16. Vanessa, I’m sorry you lost your friend, and I’m sure everyone made their own decisions - maybe not with a lot of thought behind them - but I would bet none of you are the same now.

    Eric - I never saw your comment to me. I certainly don’t think that makes you the rule. Just makes you one with more forethought.

  17. I have no sympathy for Erroll either.

    And, none of us are the same now.

    Yesterday it was 4 months since Chris died.  =/

  18. I was doing a research paper for a class on deaths caused by car surfing. The reason behind it is that Chris Trowbridge was a good friend of my sister and I, he spent alot of time staying with us and his death has had quite an impact on us. Imagine my suprise when I typed in car surfing deaths and got a link to this page which is actually about Chris. I would just like to say that for all of you who would like to nominate Chris for the Darwin award, why don’t you nominate yourselves in the ignorance category? First off most of you are probably adults who are making fun of a DEAD 15 year old for making a mistake. If any of you knew Chris, which the only one on this board whom I know did was Vanessa, then you would know that no one forced Chris to get up there. He did shit like that all the time, no matter what you did you couldn’t stop him. Chris chose to get up there, as soon as I heard I knew there was only one person to blame. Chris. These were kids, they made a mistake. Its not something for the rest of you to mock, I don’t think he could be punished anymore than he has been. And Vanessa, I know it was hard on you too, but Errol didn’t force Chris up there, we both know that. As for the rest of you, if you’d like to keep talking about the idiot he was then you can continue to hurt those of us Chris left behind, you know his friends and family love this stuff. People, just think before you speak. Thats all I ask.

  19. Trust me, I gave it plenty of consideration before I said anything and I stand by what I’ve said. I realize it may be painful for the folks who knew Chris to hear this, but if he was making choices like this all the time then he was a dumbass and someone should have told him so while he was still alive. If they had then perhaps it would’ve sunk in and prevented this tragedy.

    Pretending otherwise just enables people to continue to ignore the stupidity of their friends and loved ones and makes further tragedies like this pretty much inevitable.

  20. what the fuck if everyone here was friends with him u shouldnt be fighting come on chris wouldnt want us to be like this oh maybe just maybe u ppl r just freaks and like to hear about ppl dieing am i right

    u ppl need to fuck off cuz u wouldnt be like this if u were friends with him u assholes

  21. Wow, incoherent and nonsensical. I almost wasn’t able to decipher that.

    And you’re wrong, Spencer, if I had been friends with Chris I’d still think he was a dumbass for car surfing and getting himself killed in the process just as I would think Errol was a dumbass for allowing it. Sure, I’d be sad Chris was killed and I’d go through a grieving process, but I’d still feel he was a dumbass and I’d probably be pretty pissed at the same time because he should’ve been smarter than that. I know this cause I’ve already been through it.

  22. I was good friends with Chris. He stayed at our house often and was more like my little brother. His death has been hard on my sister and I, her especially. It was hard for the most part because Chris was in Florida when he was killed (he had moved just about 2 months earlier) and we were all up here in Indiana. Infact the first time we saw Chris after he died was 9 days later. Naturally we were emotionally exhausted because of this and trying to relay information between here and Florida to piece together what happened. I agree. What Chris did was stupid, and I’m angry at him because he threw away his whole life. And since I had the blessing of knowing Chris so well, I know that no one made him do this as many say, chances are he would have done this if he had known how it all would end. Chris loved to live. But when he did this, he hurt his friends and family and left us with a burden that is beyond us to try and lift. However I think it is wrong to nominate him for a Darwin. Which of us haven’t done stupid things in our life time? The only thing is Chris’s killed him. I don’t find anything about his death funny. And as for those who lay the blame solely on Errol Martin or the girl driving, that is wrong also. Each of you in the car that night have a bit of the blame to carry, even you Vanessa. I feel for you having to carry that night in your head for the rest of your life, but the truth is that any of you could have done anything different that night and Chris would still be here. What if’s and blaming one another will not bring Chris back and he wouldn’t want this going on. He hated to see friends fight and turn on each other and those of you doing this on this page should be ashamed. And the person who posted this should be ashamed at mocking the death of a 15 year old boy who made a mistake. I hope his parents never come across this site, and I’m sorry I had to.

  23. Ok, this is just to apologize for posting twice (3 x’s now). The other day when my first post went up it said error and that it didn’t go through and I didn’t see it up until I just posted the second time. Thats why I posted the second time today with basically the same thing. Sorry, don’t want to see like a complete idiot, just a normal status one.

  24. I just want to say that Chris was my god and still is…i loved him like my own and i will NEVER give that up! This has been so hard for all of his friends and if all you jackoffs do is read how people die then you need a hobby…take up pottery or somthing. 
    (PS-I TOTALLY AGREE WITH SPENCER GO ^ TO READ!!!)

  25. By the way…all of you who speak badly of CHRIS should die and get a darwin award for…..LIVING!!! YOU SUCK AND I HATE YOU!!!!

  26. What you said was the most heartless thing i have ever heard…you should die and go to hell NOW!!!

  27. Sorry Dillon, but I was busy watching some tube.  If I was any sort of decent human being, I would have been hunkered in a dark corner, weeping over the death of a total stranger, but I was watching TV, instead.  Shame on me.

    For future reference, your laughter rights have been revoked.  Everyone else still gets to laugh if I kill myself in a fit of stupidity, but you have to weep ceaselessly (Ok, I’m not gonna be a total hardass about this, make it five minutes, and we’ll call it even), because you CARE about me.

    But NO LAUGHING!  Because human suffering is always tragic, and never funny.  That’s why we don’t laugh when people trip, or fall down, or smack their heads on a doorframe, or hit their thumbs with hammers, or jump off of buildings because they think they can fly,

    because those things aren’t funny.

    Now you, wishing me death, destruction and eternal suffering in hell, THAT’s funny!

  28. My wife just told me I’m an insensitive jerk, and I should apologize.

    She’s right.  I probably shouldn’t be a total dick, since your pain is undoubtedly real—

    (your laughter rights, though, if I happen to kill myself in some spectacularly stupid way, are still revoked!)

  29. Couple of points I’d like to clear up here:

    1) I’m not mocking anything about this incident. The whole situation is stupid, tragic, and could (should) have been avoided.

    2) When I mentioned the Darwin award I was speaking of the everyone involved, not just Chris. Though technically it does go to the people who end up removing themselves from the gene pool through their stupidity.

    3) I’m not so insensitive as to not sympathize with the survivors and the friends and family Chris had, but I’m not going to soften my stance on the issue out of concern for their feelings. Every time one of you stood by while Chris did this stupid stunt over and over again are in a way responsible for this accident. Your toleration of his stupidity only encouraged him and made him believe he was being “cool.”

    4) If Chris happened to be as good as so many here claim then you should feel pretty miserable for not doing something to prevent this from happening. Everyone wants to say they couldn’t stop him, but none of you really tried outside of Vanessa.

    5) Yep, lots of people do stupid things when they’re young. Most of us survive our stupidity. How is that in any way an excuse?

  30. I would just like to say a few claims about the saint on this page Vanessa. For those of you who bow down and worship the ground she walks on because she claims to have been the only one who tried to stop Chris that night. The only one undoubtedly in the car that night who did anything but cheer him and practically push him off the roof. Vanessa, I feel for you I really do and I’m glad I was not the one there. But also I want to know what really went on. Because your account of that night changes more often than most people change their underwear. I actually still have a conversation that I had online with you in which you claimed that you were all having fun, that you did try to stop chris at first but then it was just joking around and having fun. You also were adament about how it wasn’t Errols fault or Biancas. That they were your best friends and that you couldnt believe they were getting in trouble for this because it was: Just an Accident. Now you want to claim that you were against it from the start, that it’s all Errols fault, and that you aren’t even friends with Bianca anymore for it? And when I compare my story from you to my friends they don’t exactly match up. Especially since I talked to you less than a week after the accident when you compare them to people you’ve talked to recently. Your story just keeps getting better and better. Chris is dead, tell the truth for his sake. Don’t worry so much about making yourself out to be the saint, no matter what we’ll all still love you just don’t lay blame on others if it shouldn’t be there.

  31. This is a sad story.  A couple months ago a neighborhood kid took off on his motorcycle on a Sunday morning at about 70 mph, and ended up impaling himself on the steering column (but that was after he hit a car on its way to church.)  Kids have showing up at the intersection for months now to do impromptu candlelight services.
    What that kid did was deeply stupid.  Should he be nominated for a Darwin?  I doubt it—Darwins’ are best reserved for urban legends.
    My oldest brother died at 13 from a stupid act, and even as I recognize it as a stupid act, I can’t allow myself the luxury of chuckles over this kind of thing. A kid in that age group (13-17 or so) is still a child, and a child getting flooded with hormonal surges while still working through a kid’s need for independence can be a fucked up thing.  I would have hoped that Chris’s friends would’ve helped him, but I think he might’ve need a bit more than the moral guidance of 15 yr olds.
      Nowiser, you’re a high school teacher, aren’t you?  Haven’t you seen a bit too much of this kind of thing?

  32. wow.. I think you people that are saying bad stuff about Chris are truely cold hearted, how could you say something like that about him, seriously. You know that it’s going to hurt and effect those that loved him. wow…

  33. Maryh…i TOTALLY agree with you…now i dont want to upset chris’s FLORIDA friends but if chris still lived in INDIANA nothing like this would have happened and we would all be happy and stuff but since he was thousands of mile away…i cant do anything….i totally understand what you say but i still standby what i said (see above) and you guys really dont know what i am going through (maybe maryh because of her bro 🙁 )  but this is the single most hardest thing i have ever been through and it hurts so bad…….

  34. how do u do this:hang yourself while auto-erotic masturbatory asphyxia, and get drunk and wrap your penis around a telephone pole.

  35. idiot.  You don’t do them at the same time, you schmuck.  You have to do the penis-wrapping first—then, once the appendage has been stretched appropriately, you find a suitable place (closets work well), loop the modified appendage over the hangar rod, and. . .

    Why the hell am I explaining this to you?—if you can’t figure it out for yourself you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

  36. Dillon, if you’re still reading this blog, I understand your anger about the death of you friend, Chris.  And it’s not a bad thing for you to work out your anger anonymously on the net.  I’m glad you’re able to express your grief—Your friend obviously meant very much to you, and you shouldn’t forget that.  Please-PLEASE- find someone in your school or town that you can talk to about this.  Believe me, it makes a big difference.  I think you’re a good guy.  Make Chris’s memory count.

  37. Nowiser—
    Man, you’re no cold-hearted bastard.  You were there once and you saw the dumb-ass things that kids do.  It’s a painful thing to see—I have a young son, and I dread the moment he gets it into his noggin to try out some of the bone-headed stunts I attempted as a teenager. And I truly hope he doesn’t take up my love of hooch. But you seem like a good guy (from your posts) and I’m guessing you made the right kind of impressions on your students. 
    Keep up the struggle- and I’ll do my best to help
    (although I’m a neurotic freakin’ mess)
    mh

  38. Whether he died by someone else’s stupidity or his own, that boy’s parents had to bury their dead son, and that boy’s friends had to bury their friend, and that’s what makes it tragic. Was his age an excuse for his lack of forethought? Hell no. It is what it is, an utterly stupid stunt which cost a boy his own life, his parents their son, his friends their friend.

    There are no bad guys on this thread - save maybe a few at the very top*. Even those who never knew the kid are standing where they are because of some highly emotional experience. Les lost his friend, nowiser has his past, maryh has her brother, and I… I know what it is like to make some really stupid decisions (and to be caught up in someone else’s really stupid decisions), feel incredibly bad for them, and then be relentlessly kicked around for it. Granted, no one died. But I am seeing such raw pain in everyone’s posts - and for these kids, I was concerned when I read Vanessa’s blog which clearly points out so many thoughts of suicide among her peers, and Vanessa herself is obviously not skipping rope these days. Yes, they need to understand - and I will just bet they do - that this boy’s actions were stupid, that whoever made no attempt to stop it should have, etc etc. and this story should be told and retold to kids who just might find themselves in a situation like this someday. I have no answers, only thoughts. And my thought on this is that from the top to the bottom, it is just damn sad.

    *By the time this thread hit the second post presumptions were flying, and I am sure this is not the only place it happened. Human nature and all.

  39. Hear, hear, Covie.  I wish the best for these kids, and they’re in a truly unlovely situation now.  “Stupid’  has little to do with it: it’s about the pain of losing someone.
    Happens-  Whether its thru car surfing or cancer.
    Eventually, we see it all.

  40. ok…chris was a really good friend to me and you people who say he was stupid should seriously die… because none of you((unless you knew him…and were close friends with him))know the pain that I’m goin through!!  it’s completely insane!!  i would do ANYTHING to just see him again..or just hear his voice, and NONE of you understand!!  what he did was stupid, i know and understand that…but all he was doin was trying to have a little fun…and the consequences were REALLY bad!  and i wish that it wouldn’t have happened…but there really isn’t anything anyone can do now…except for remember him and all of the GREAT times you had with him((cuz we all know there wasn’t a bad time spent with him)) so for all of you that have nothing better to do then to mock or make fun of my friend go to HELL and try to make yourself useful in life, instead of trying to hurt people that knew chris ((or any others you are talking about on here)) because you enjoy seeing people hurt…what a bunch of asses!

  41. Trust me, I know the kind of pain you’re going through. I am not unsympathetic to those who knew Chris and are dealing with his loss, but at the same time I’m not going to sugar coat the truth of the situation to make people feel better. There’s a solid lesson to be learned here and most of you aren’t learning it.

  42. Amanda (and all you other drama queens), I lost a friend in highschool to the very same thing. That was 14 years ago. It was just as stupid then as it is now, and you cannot expect people to sit back and mourn the “senseless tragedy” as if they knew the deceased themselves or to refrain from commenting on the lack of intelligence involved in attempting this kind of bullshit.

  43. ok…brandi, you say you went through the exact same thing in high school, i doubt it or else you wouldn’t be being a bitch about it…you would understand the pain we are goin through, and know that no teenager should be goin through this!  but i doubt that any of you “older” people on here know how to give sympathy to younger people…since your on this site for a bunch of asses!  this site is for rude, heartless, people…who have nothin better to do with their lives then torture people who have lost someone close to them!!!  like i said before GO TO HELL!!!

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