Accused driver in 'couch surfing' death released

A Quebec man facing three charges in connection with a fatal road stunt involving a sled-mounted couch was released Monday.

Alex Labbé faces third charge of criminal negligence causing death

François Hallé, 22, was riding on a couch being dragged by a van when the couch swerved into oncoming traffic. (CBC)

A Quebec man facing three charges in connection with a fatal "couch surfing" accident has been released from police custody after a brief court appearance.

Alex Labbé, 21, was arraigned over the telephone Sunday on charges of dangerous driving causing death and fleeing the scene of an accident. He was formally arraigned in court in Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce, Que., on Monday, where he was hit with a third charge, criminal negligence causing death.

Police said Labbé was driving a van towing the couch carrying François Hallé, 22, on Saturday on a country road in Saint-Benjamin, south of Quebec City. At some point, the couch swerved into oncoming traffic and was hit by another vehicle.

Hallé was transported to hospital, where he died.  Police said Labbé fled the scene of the accident, but was arrested at his home in Saint-Georges, Que.

François Hallé, 22, died in hospital. (CBC)
Yan Laflamme, a good friend of both the accused and the deceased, said Labbé panicked when he saw the body of his friend lying on the ground.

"It's not like he fled because he didn't want people to know it was him," Laflamme said.

Labbé was simply in shock and went home, Laflamme said.

'A good time'

The stunt that led to Hallé's death has become known as "couch surfing" in popular online videos, which show people sitting on couches being dragged behind a vehicle at high speeds.

A video image shows a typical couch surfing stunt. (YouTube)

Laflamme said he and his friends started doing the stunt after viewing it online.

"It's the kind of thing that when you see it, you want to try it … we definitely like doing it; we do it often; we have a good time," Laflamme said.

But Laflamme and his friends now say they'll think twice about trying it again.

"It's hard, it's really hard. We lost a friend we really liked," Laflamme said.