Attempts to recreate a TikTok car surfing video ended in disaster when a teenager fell off the bonnet and suffered serious head injuries.
Newly qualified driver Natasha Graham drove with the youth on the car in a supermarket car park but laughter soon turned to screams of horror.
For reasons that aren’t clear, the victim fell off the Fiat 500 and suffered a fractured skull, brain bleed and fractured ankle.
Now nursery nurse Graham, 19, of Oak Avenue, South Shields, who pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said the crash happened in the Morrison’s car park, at Seaburn, Sunderland, in November last year.
Mobile phone footage of the horrific incident was played in court showing the moment the teen, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, fell from the car.
Witnesses said it had been driving in large circles around the car park but was not going very fast.
Mr Wardlaw said: “The complainant was initially laughing but it became screams as the car became faster, before they slipped off.”
The victim was taken the the RVI, in Newcastle, and was found to have a fractured skull, a small bleed on the brain and a fractured ankle and spent time in intensive care.
The court heard the teen continues to suffer ongoing issues as a result of the injuries, including a change in personality, an inability to process basic information and mood swings, although the victim is making some good progress.
When Graham was interviewed by police, she said she was a new driver and was not used to the car and pulled away a bit fast as she struggled to find the bite of the clutch. She said the victim must have got a shock because of the noise of the engine and must have jumped off.
She pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving on the basis she didn’t intend to cause harm and that the victim was a willing participant and she didn’t expect them to let go.
Graham was sentenced to 12 months suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work and a two year driving ban.
Judge Edward Legard told her: “This was in any view an immature and wholly inappropriate driving prank that has led to very serious consequences for the victim and for yourself.
“Things could so very easily have been even more serious, if not fatal.
“Cars are not playthings, they are heavy lumps of metal, propelled by powerful engines in them.
“You decided it would be fun to try to recreate a TikTok video whereby one person holds onto the bonnet while the car was being driven around.
“It might sound or even look fun but it was patently and inherently dangerous.”
The judge said it wasn’t clear whether it was Graham’s difficulty finding the bite or braking or something else which caused the accident.
Tom Gent, defending, said: “This is clearly a tragic case and Natasha Graham is devastated by the consequences of her actions and is desperately sorry for what she did.
“She wishes she could turn the clock back and she will forever have to live with the consequences of the foolishness of her actions.
“It was a foolish, immature decision.
“Afterwards, she called the emergency services herself and provided the victim with a blanket and she was extremely distressed by the fact the victim had been injured.
“She works as a nursery nurse and she’s a caring, well-behaved and, ordinarily, sensible young woman.
“She’s genuinely remorseful and the prosecution has had a significant impact on her.”