Planking, a risky internet craze, takes root in Watton

A dangerous internet craze has found alarming popularity in one Norfolk town, where a teenager has already been badly hurt.

The global phenomenon, known as 'planking',involves lying face down in unusual public places and uploading photographs of the stunt on to social networking sites, such as Facebook.

Large groups of teenagers have been spotted planking in and around Watton in precarious places including roof tops and on lorries, causing concern among residents and police.

Worried mother Karen Warnes is warning other parents about the dangers of the craze after her youngest son Jack suffered injuries in a fall.

The 17-year-old was planking with friends on the town sign when he fell and banged his head on July 8.

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Mrs Warnes, of Bridle Road, and her husband Ian received a panicked call at about 11pm saying Jack had been hurt and he was later taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn with concussion and a broken wrist.

'We had to call an ambulance because his friends said he banged his head and he wasn't making much sense,' Mrs Warnes, 44, said. 'He looked awful and the swelling was terrible - his eye was shut and it looked like he had an extra head.'

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Planking has been popular around the world for several years, but has been more widely reported following death of a 20 year-old Australian man who fell from a seventh-floor balcony in May.

Mrs Warnes, a higher level teaching assistant at Watton Junior School, only learned about planking a week before the accident when she saw photographs posted on Jack's Facebook page.

'I just thought how dangerous it looked. Jack's usually my sensible one,' she added. 'I have asked him not to do it any more and hopefully he's learned his lesson. Somebody could get very seriously hurt.'

Jack, who has just completed a public services course at Norwich City College, searched the term 'planking' online after first hearing it mentioned a couple of months ago.

He and a group of around ten friends decided to try it and now regularly compete to find the 'funniest and highest' spots when they are out.

These have included lorries, house roofs, caravans and between mopeds, with both boys and girls competing.

'My friends were freaking out and panicking when I fell,' he said. 'I don't think they have been put off by what happened to me.'

Jack said lots of teenagers in Watton and Norwich were participating in planking and it was most likely spreading other towns including Swaffham.

A police spokesman said: 'We would urge anyone who is thinking of taking part in this dangerous activity to consider the possible consequences should they fall.

'When people put themselves in unnecessary danger accidents can occur. You could suffer fatal or life changing injuries, as well as causing distress to your family and friends.

'These actions can potentially put other people lives at risk, not just members of the emergency services if they are called to assist, but people who might intervene to help someone who is in difficulty.'

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