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updated: 7/2/2011 7:21 AM

Hoffman man in critical condition after car surfing accident

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  • Stephen D. Gallagher

    Stephen D. Gallagher

  • Eva M. Carlock

    Eva M. Carlock

By Sam Wagner

A Hoffman Estates man was listed in critical condition late Friday after he was injured when he fell from a vehicle roof in Crystal Lake while car surfing late Thursday, officials said. Police have charged three teenagers from Schaumburg and Crystal Lake for their reckless conduct.

Police said that about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Austin Watts, 20, of the 1900 block of Governor's Lane, struck his head on the pavement in the parking lot of the Walmart at 1205 S. Rte. 31. He was taken to Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center in McHenry.

A police investigation found Watts had been riding on the rooftops of two vehicles before he fell from a 2002 Chevrolet Impala driven by Stephen D. Gallagher, 19, of the 1800 block of Hemlock Place, Schaumburg. A 2000 Dodge Neon, operated by Eva M. Carlock, 18, of the 1300 block of Gardina Lane, Crystal Lake, and a 2002 Dodge Caravan, operated by a 17-year-old girl of Crystal Lake were using their vehicles in a similar manner, police said.

Watts was riding on the exterior trunk and roof areas of the Dodge Neon and then the Chevy Impala during reckless maneuvers being conducted by the drivers, police said. Deputy Chief Gene Lowery said these maneuvers included darting in and out of each others' paths.

Lowery said in his 32 years as a police officer, while he has received complaints about reckless driving in parking lots, he has never heard of anyone riding on top of a car for recreational purposes.

"What someone sees someone do in a movie or riding on a car at some acrobatic event, it's not only not appropriate, it's unsafe," Lowery said. "The human body can't withstand contact in a violent way with automobiles, concrete or asphalt."

Gallagher was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving and felony reckless conduct involving great bodily harm. He was taken to the McHenry County Jail for a bond hearing.

Carlock was charged with misdemeanor reckless driving, reckless conduct and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. She posted bond and was released with a court date of July 19. The 17-year-old juvenile was petitioned into juvenile court on charges of reckless driving and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and subsequently released to her parents.