'Car surfing' suspected in Fairbanks man's death

Mother: Retynski took advantage of athleticism to perform daring feats

Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2009

FAIRBANKS - A 34-year-old Fairbanks man found dead along a rural road had apparently been "car surfing" on the hood of a speeding truck.

The body of Roman Retynski was found Thursday near the shoulder of Mile 36 Chena Hot Springs Road.

A woman in the truck told Alaska State Troopers that Retynski was driving the night of June 10. They were heading toward the Retynski family cabin near the east end of Chena Hot Springs Road.

The woman told troopers that Retynski suddenly announced he wanted to go "surfing" and climbed out of the truck as it continued to move. The woman was left to struggle getting control of the truck, said trooper spokeswoman Beth Ipsen in an e-mail response to questions.

The woman is considered a witness and her name has not been released, Ipsen said.

The truck was moving at 60 to 70 mph.

The woman told Retynski's family that she "lost" him along the road. The woman looked for Retynski but was unable to find him.

She headed to a nearby campground for the night and contacted Retynski's brother, who found the body the next day.

The woman told troopers she had not been drinking alcohol but that Retynski had been.

Ipsen said troopers could not speculate whether any charges could be forthcoming for how the incident was reported.

"Charges are up to the District Attorney's office," she said.

News of Retynski's death was not entirely unexpected.

"This is Roman," Ruth Retynski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. "He was the daredevil of the family."

At 6-feet-1-inch tall and 210 pounds, Retynski took advantage of his athleticism to perform daring feats, including riding on the hoods of cars.

His mother said she heard stories from his friends that Retynski would sit on the hood of vehicle and lean back on the windshield as someone drove. According to friends, he had done it at least 100 times since he was 15.

He thought he was invincible, she said.

"He liked to gamble with life," Ruth said. "I know when he was flying off the hood, he didn't think he would die, he was just thinking, 'This is going to hurt.'"

Car surfing was popularized in movies such as "Teen Wolf" and "Death Proof."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report last year warning of the dangers of car surfing. Between 1990 and last August, 58 people died from car surfing and 41 were injured, according to the report.

Alaska State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said this was the first reported case of car surfing she had heard of in Alaska.

"Standing on top of a car going any speed is at best a bad idea and at worst fatal as in this case," she said.

Retynski family members plan to spread his ashes and those of his recently deceased father at Angel Creek near the family's cabin.

"I know he's with the Lord," Ruth said. "He was a wild one, but he had a strong faith."

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