Judge orders St. Paul man to visit grave of car-surfing victim

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2013 - 8:47 PM

 

A 22-year-old St. Paul man will have to visit the grave of a buddy who tumbled to his death from the top of a vehicle while they were “car surfing” in western Wisconsin.

Cole Fohrenkamm’s sentence requires him to visit Shawn G. Swanson’s grave on the anniversary of his death, starting this Aug. 11.

This week’s action in Burnett County District Court also sentenced Fohrenkamm to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.

Fohrenkamm must place either flowers or a plant at Swanson’s grave site in the Evergreen Cemetery in Mahtomedi for the three years of his probation. After each visit, Fohrenkamm must report to serve 10 of his 30 days in jail, the court order continued.

Swanson’s mother, Renee, said Friday that she was in court to hear Fohrenkamm’s punishment and she agrees with Judge Kenneth Kutz’s sentence, saying it “shows compassion … He came up with his own sentence. It’s very unique.”

Fohrenkamm pleaded no contest in May to vehicular homicide, reckless driving and causing injury while driving drunk.

On Aug. 11, 2012, Swanson, 21, was with Fohrenkamm and other St. Paul Johnson High School pals on their traditional weekend getaway of boating, fishing and hanging around the bonfire.

At some point in the evening, they went “car surfing.” Swanson got on top of an SUV and Fohrenkamm drove about 40 miles per hour, weaving from side to side.

Swanson fell and hit his head. Fohrenkamm and the others drove to the St. Croix Casino in nearby Danbury, Wis., where Swanson was pronounced dead.

Analysis of Fohrenkamm’s blood that night determined his blood alcohol content was 0.116 percent, above the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving. The analysis also revealed evidence of marijuana use.

Car surfing videos posted on the Internet show riders standing or lying on vehicle roofs.

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

 

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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