Janesville25.3°

Car stunt puts youth near death

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Catherine W. Idzerda
May 5, 2008
— Police are sifting evidence.

Counselors are standing by.


And the teen’s family is waiting for the doctor’s verdict.


It’s a painful scene that begins with a teen taking a risk.


On Friday night, Nathan Rosenow, a 16-year-old Parker High School student who has been on the honor roll more than once, was seriously injured during a car stunt in the Rock County Job Center parking lot.


Rosenow was transported to Mercy Hospital and was in critical condition Friday. A condition report was not available this morning.


A doctor told police Friday that Rosenow suffered severe brain trauma and several skull fractures.


Car stunts such as “surfing” on the hood of a car or attempting professional “Dukes of Hazzard” tricks are a popular pastime with a small segment of teens. Videos of such stunts show up on YouTube or personal Web pages such as Facebook.


For Janesville teens, doing stunts in parking lots is a “common activity” on Friday nights, according to the police report about Friday’s incident.


Janesville police Deputy Chief David Moore said it’s not a trend.


“But investigation shows that this particular group of friends had been involved with it,” Moore said.


Although car stunts are not common in Rock County, Matthew Floyd, 15, died in 1994 after a car-surfing incident.


“It is risky teen behavior that can quickly end in tragic injury or death,” Moore said. “The truth of the matter is that many of our young drivers do not have the wisdom that age and experience offer.”


According to police reports:


On Friday night, a group of friends met in the parking lot at El-Ra Bowl. Most of the kids sat in the cars and listened to music and talked.


Jason T. Klein, 17, of 1237 Arch St., Janesville, arrived in his mother’s 2002 white Chevy TrailBlazer. Rosenow, of 2017 S. Crosby Ave., Janesville, went over to talk with Klein.


“The boys had been involved in something called stunting,” the police report said. “This is usually when they do trick or stunts involving a motor vehicle.”


On Friday, friends witnessed Rosenow jump into the open window of Klein’s SUV, a “Dukes of Hazzard kind of jump.”


As Rosenow sat in the window, Klein drove in circles. Rosenow hung out the window “hooting and hollering,” according to the report.


Kids began to wander into the El-Ra Bowl, leaving a smaller crowd to witness the second stunt.


Rosenow stood in front of Klein’s TrailBlazer “egging him on,” the report said.


Klein revved the motor and then drove at Rosenow.


Rosenow jumped onto the hood in a kind of belly flop, grabbed the top of the hood lip and held on, whooping and hollering as Klein drove.


Klein later estimated for officers that he was driving 20 to 25 mph. Klein said his foot slipped more onto the accelerator, and he estimated it increased his speed by 7 mph, according to reports.


Klein told police he slammed on the brakes, and Rosenow fell off onto the asphalt.


Other witnesses told police Rosenow was thrown from the passenger side of the vehicle in a sharp turn, according to reports.


Rosenow went limp instantly, and the kids gathered around to see if he was OK.


He was not.


At the scene, Klein was distraught, shaking and upset, but he admitted to officers that he knew his friend was going to jump on his car.


Klein submitted to drug and alcohol tests, but none was found.


Later, Klein was interviewed at the police department.


“I asked Klein if in his opinion he believed he was driving recklessly, and he said yes,” the report reads. “Klein said he was wearing his seat belt. Klein did not think the incident was dangerous until he realized Rosenow had fallen off the vehicle.”


Klein was arrested on a charge of great bodily harm by reckless driving. He remained locked in the Rock County Jail this morning pending his initial court appearance.



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