Driver arrested after friend dies ‘car surfing,’ police say

Kristopher Gerhard, 30

A 30-year-old Sangaree-area resident was driving home from a bar earlier this week when his roommate and the best man at his wedding jumped atop the vehicle’s hood and started “car surfing,” Berkeley County deputies said Friday.

But when the thrill-seeker fell off early Monday and hit the pavement not far from their house, the deputies said Kristopher Charles Gerhard kept going and didn’t call for help.

His friend, 24-year-old Daniel Cristino Montalvo Jr., would die two days later at a hospital of trauma to his head and other parts of his body.

Gerhard, a resident of Kirk Court, was then arrested Friday morning on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, which carries up to five years in prison. It was his first arrest in South Carolina, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Chief Deputy Rick Ollic, a longtime investigator for the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, said the death was the first in his memory believed to have resulted from the car-surfing phenomenon, which has proved fatal elsewhere worldwide.

“Independent witnesses saw him on the vehicle after they left the bar,” Ollic said. “It’s an unusual case for Berkeley County.”

Gerhard remained jailed Friday afternoon at the county’s Hill-Finklea Detention Center in Moncks Corner, where he had a bond hearing that night.

A webpage on TheKnot.com that contains details about Gerhard’s wedding this past November in Key West, Fla., lists Montalvo as his best man.

The page features a photograph in which Montalvo and others held up signs forming the question, “Will you marry me?” The scene served as part of Gerhard’s proposal to his future bride.

On Sunday night, the duo watched an NFL playoff game at a bar off Royle Road, Ollic said.

“There was alcohol involved,” he added.

When they left after 1 a.m. Monday, Gerhard was driving a black 2010 Subaru Impreza, arrest affidavits stated, and the car’s owner, Montalvo, was on the hood.

Near 115 Heather Drive, about a quarter-mile from their home just around a curve, Montalvo fell off, and the back of his head hit the pavement, causing severe brain damage, the affidavits said.

It wasn’t known if anyone saw the fall, Ollic said, but residents called the authorities around 1:20 a.m. after they came across Montalvo on the roadside.

Since detectives later caught up with Gerhard, Ollic said, the suspect “has not cooperated with us.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.