Ohio teen killed while 'skitching,' leads to proposal for law

CANTON, Ohio — The tragic case of a 16-year-old boy who was killed while "skitching" has prompted a state representative to propose a change to Ohio law.

Rep. Thomas West has introduced House Bill 475, known as the Dallas Swogger Act.

In September of 2017, Dallas held onto a car while skateboarding near 12th Street NW and Cato Court. He fell, hit his head and died a few days later at Akron Children's Hospital.

"I had to make the decision to take him off life support and we did that on the third of October," said his mother, Melissa Swogger.

She recalled her son as a really good kid who was protective and enjoyed hanging out with his brothers and playing basketball.

"We had a tragedy. We lost a big part of our family. It has been very hard."

Ohio law prohibits attaching bicycles, coasters, roller skates, sleds or toy vehicles to moving vehicles, but West wants skateboards added to the law.

"No family should have to experience the loss of a loved one from this kind of senseless accident," said Rep. West. "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."

When Melissa learned skitching took her son's life, she was stunned.

"I had never heard of it," she said. "I had never known him to do anything like that."

Multiple videos of the dangerous stunt can be found on-line. Melissa is concerned those videos encourage teens to make bad decisions.

She fully supports the proposal to amend the law.

"I just want to put awareness out there, what's really going on out there with some of these kids, what they're really doing and it's very dangerous."

People caught skitching, or drivers allowing it, can be charged with minor misdemeanors. Repeat offender can potentially be charged with third or fourth degree misdemeanors.

In Dallas's case, a 17-year-old driver was found guilty of a more serious charge, aggravated vehicular homicide.

His sentence on January 29 included a license suspension and 100 hours of community service.

Melissa hopes what happened to her son serves as a wakeup call to others.

"I don't want other parents to go through what my family and my community have went through."

HB 475 would still need to pass out of committee before heading to the house and senate for votes.

If passed, it could be several months before the governor signs it into law.

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