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Dangerous trend: Teens recording risky stunts

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ATLANTA -

It's a disturbing trend: teenagers are recording themselves car-surfing, jumping off roofs -- even lying down underneath trains.

Pranjal Dahiya, a 17-year-old soccer player, used his phone to videotape as he rode shotgun along with his buddy Tyler down a dark road. As they drove, they joked about the country song, "Jesus Take the Wheel" while hitting speeds of close to 110 miles per house. Then they hit a curve.

"I remember my friend saying, ‘Oh, my God,' because a left turn came up way faster than expected, and it was pitch black outside, so we obviously didn't see it," said Dahiya.

Pranjal's friend slammed on the brakes.

"My face hit the dashboard. I knocked my teeth out," said Dahiya. "The back of the car flipped to the front.  And then we were just rolling, rolling, rolling."

Both teens -- not wearing seatbelts -- were ejected.

"I landed straight on my neck and I broke my C6 vertebrae," said Dahiya.

Tyler suffered a severe brain injury.

"I was on my back. Listening to the car, revving, revving…and I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, I mean, didn't expect this to happen at all,'" said Dahiya.

Neither did Will Fricks,  He was just starting his junior year at Florida State this fall when he dove off a roof into a pool and missed.

"I blacked out, but at the last minute I kind of tucked my head and landed around right here and then kind of rolled into the pool," said Fricks.

Will's friends pulled him out and called his mother, telling her that her youngest son couldn't move his legs.
 
On YouTube, you see it again and again: young people taking almost mind-blowing risks.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Herndon Murray, director of the teen program at Shepherd Center, says what you don't see in these videos are the consequences.

But Shepherd sees them, every day.

"Brain injury. Spinal cord injury. Permanent paralysis.  Having your mother take care of you for the rest of your life," said Murray.

Murray says one of the biggest dangers teens don't recognize is diving.

"They never realize how dramatically a single dive can change their life forever," said Murray.

Pranjal spent three months at Shepherd Center, and is paralyzed from the waist down. The reason he and other teens may be willing to take chances may be biological. The area of our brain that controls judgment calls and risk-taking doesn't fully develop until our late 20s, so the teenagers keep coming to Shepherd.

"I'll tell you who it affects a lot are the parents," Murray said.  "And all of a sudden, mother is taking care of him just like she did when he was a baby.  Bowel and bladder care, it's mom. And that's her job until one of them dies."

Fricks is lucky; his spinal cord was damaged, but not severed, so he has a chance of a full recovery.

Back in Orlando, Pranjal just started his senior year, but instead of playing soccer, he now watches it from the sideline, wishing he could return to that July night and take it all back.

"All it takes is not even a second, maybe a half of a second, and your life can change, immediately," said Pranjal.

Pranjal says he hopes to be able to go out and talk to teenagers and share his story. He's hoping to become a physical therapist and work with people recovering from spinal cord injuries.

For more information on Pranjal Dahiya, visit Pranjal's Ray of Hope Facebook page at facebook.com/PranjalsRayOfHope.

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