ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Two teenage girls are in the hospital with serious head injuries after falling out of the bed of a pickup truck Saturday evening, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
"Pickup trucks are designed for transporting cargo, not human passengers," said News4Jax's crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, who discussed the rules when it comes to traveling in the bed of a pickup truck. "You know, we see farm workers, landscapers and newspaper people riding in the back of the pickup," Smith said. "But it's really unsafe. You really have no protection."
Rescue crews were called to Gilda Drive and Christina Drive in St. Augustine Shores after the teens fell out of the bed of a moving pickup truck. Both girls suffered head injuries and one is listed in critical condition at UF Health Jacksonville.
Despite the dangers, Smith said the practice isn't illegal -- if you're at least 18 years old. Regardless, he said you should always think twice before riding in the bed of a moving truck.
"You're not seat belted in," Smith said. "As strange as it may seem, when you're riding in the front of the pickup truck where you have more protection, you're required by law to wear a seat belt. But when you're in the bed of a pickup, you're not. Go figure, but that's just the law."
St. Johns County deputies have not said if the girls were standing or seated just before they fell out. Either way, Smith said it is just too risky. He also said the 16-year-old driver could be cited because the girls were under 18.
Traffic Homicide detectives with the St Johns County Major Crimes Unit along with the Traffic Section are still investigating this incident.