TYNGSBORO (CBS) – A teenager is fighting to survive after he was thrown from a pickup truck in Tyngsboro.
Police said the 17-year-old was riding in the bed of a 2000 GMC Sonoma in the parking lot of Ayotte’s Stateline Smokin’ Joe’s on the Tyngsborough-Hudson, N.H. border around 9 p.m. when he was thrown from the truck, which was being driven erratically by another teen.
“At some point, it looks like he was attempting to do a donut and the vehicle kind of shook, it’s got very big thick tires and it just caused the 17-year-old in the back to be immediately ejected,” Tyngsboro Police Chief Richard Howe told reporters. The teen hit his head when he landed on the pavement.
The store owner said the entire incident lasted about five seconds, according to surveillance video. He said it looked like the 19-year-old was trying to drive through a huge puddle to splash his friend in the truck bed when the teen was ejected.
The 17-year-old was rushed to Lowell General Hospital and then flown on a medical rescue helicopter to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston with life-threatening injuries. Chief Howe said his condition improved overnight.
“It’s heartbreaking, a very avoidable event never should have happened. I don’t know why the 17-year-old was in the back of the vehicle but the operator has a responsibility for any passengers in that vehicle,” Howe said. “I’m hoping the 17-year-old can pull through and make it through this and that’s what we’re all hoping for at this point.”
A day later in the same parking lot, store customers were rooting for the victim, who’s fighting for his life. “I feel bad for the families right now,” said Kathy Murphy. “We all make really dumb decisions when we’re young.”
A 19-year-old was driving the pickup truck. Both teens, who have not been identified, are from Lowell.
At Greater Lowell Technical High, the teen’s schoolmates said social media is flooded with prayers for him.
“It’s tragic honestly,” said one student.
“Just kids being kids. Just a stupid choice,” another student said.
Police do not believe that drugs or alcohol played a factor. The 19-year-old driver has been cited for operating to endanger and operating an unregistered vehicle and he could face more charges.