- Laura A. Bischoff Columbus bureau
Grabbing the bumper or side of a moving car and hitching a ride while on a skateboard is not specifically illegal in Ohio — something some state lawmakers want to change.
State Rep. Thomas West, D-Canton, introduced a bill named the Dallas Swogger Act, named after a 16-year-old Canton boy who died in October 2017 from injuries sustained when he was riding his skateboard behind a moving vehicle.
A law on the books since 2004 prohibits “skitching” — towing or being towed — on any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled or toy vehicles on roadways. Violators can be found guilty of a minor misdemeanor on first offense or third or fourth degree misdemeanors on repeat offenses within a year.
But absent from the list is skateboards.
“No family should have to experience the loss of a loved one from this kind of senseless accident,” West said in a written statement announcing his bill. “We have a responsibility as a community to do anything we can to prevent future tragedies like this. I am hopeful that the Dallas Swogger Act can help to play a role in that effort.”
The internet is loaded with photos and videos of people skitching behind cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and more on bikes, skateboards, snowboards, skis and sleds. Likewise, there are news stories about riders being seriously injured or killed.
Skitching is inherently dangerous: it’s done in traffic, sometimes at high speeds and without the driver’s knowledge or adequate training or protection.
“This is a very dangerous activity that can result in the serious injury or death of those involved,” said Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Robert Sellers.