‘Train surfer’ under police investigation talks about his dangerous adventures

He has been called an “idiot” and a “reckless adrenaline junkie” whose sky-high stunts have him knocking on death’s door. Now, the man who claims to be one of the people he sees “surfing” on the roof of a moving Toronto subway train talks about his stunts and the imminent threat of police arrest.

After communicating with CTV News via direct messages for weeks, the young man behind a shocking Canada Day video that made headlines across the country has agreed to an exclusive interview.

During our online conversations, he made his feelings about the press clear, telling me, “I don’t talk to the media.” That is, until now. After several messages, she recently agreed to meet near a busy intersection in downtown Toronto.

His real name remains a mystery, though he asked me to call him Chase, a name that plays off his social media handle (his Instagram account is @thechase.TO). He came to our meeting in a suit and tie, while he wore a full suit. Black face mask with a white skull painted on the front and two holes cut out for the eyes. Puzzled passers-by stopped and stared as we walked down Yonge Street to the site of our interview.

When asked why he feels the need to come forward in a mask, Chase was quick to point out that anonymity is essential to him. “None of this would happen if it wasn’t anonymous.”

The masked man said he is in his early 20s and Canadian. That is the only personal information he is willing to divulge. However, he has reason to be suspicious. On Canada Day weekend, Chase posted a shocking video of himself and at least one other person “training to surf” on top of a rapid transit train in Toronto’s north end, resulting in the start of a official investigation into the people behind the stunt.

The Toronto Transit Commission tells CTV News it has turned its investigation over to the Toronto Police Service, who confirms a detective has been assigned to the case, which is still in its early stages. Chase agreed to talk to CTV News and also knew authorities are looking for him. He said his message to the TTC is “it’s nothing personal.”

Chase claims to have climbed and traversed cranes, trains and roof ledges without a safety harness at various locations in Canada, as well as a dozen other countries.

A video posted on his YouTube page in January 2022 shows an individual climbing what is described as a Soviet Cold War radar located in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. In the video, someone with an accent can be heard warning that “it is dangerous” to climb. Chase admits that it’s a place “you’re really not supposed to go.”

He said it is part of what is known worldwide as the “URBEX” community, an acronym used as a general title for urban explorers. Some of them, like Chase, take shocking footage of themselves climbing towering structures around the world, then edit their videos and post them on social media for all to see.


Chase said he started doing that about seven years ago when, as a teenager, a close friend took him to the roof of a school. Since then, he has been climbing higher and higher, even as the ever-present danger mounts. He said that he comes from a rock climbing background. CTV News asked him if he is concerned that an impersonator might watch videos of him and then try something similar.

“I’ve seen a couple of copycats and it worries me a lot,” he said. “In no way am I encouraging anyone to recreate or attempt the activities I do. These are my risks, I know what is at stake, but I am making my own independent decision here and I strongly recommend that no one copy it.”

When asked if he was afraid of dying, Chase paused before replying, “sometimes, but not often.”

“Of course there is an element of risk in what we do, but we take it anyway because the experiences of the other side, it’s like opening a door to a new world,” he said.

However, that new world has claimed the lives of other building climbers and underground tunnel explorers. Chase said that he has had some luck and only mentioned an experience that really scared him while he was climbing a crane in Paris, France.

“I was on this tow truck in Paris and I was going up and I realized everything was soaking wet, and I was half way up and going down was much harder than getting up. At that moment I was scared.”

Digital storytelling professor Richard Lachman of the Metropolitan University of Toronto believes that the camera-hung daredevils who engage in these stunts aren’t just looking for the ‘likes’ on their social media pages, but also the payday that comes with it. dizzying page views. “For some accounts it can be very lucrative, but I’d like to point out that there have been some very famous accounts that do this professionally and still die,” Lachman said.

Chase bristled at the idea. While he admitted that some of his classmates chase dollar signs, he claimed that all of his YouTube videos are demonetized. “That’s intentional, I don’t make a dime on this.”

Instead, the young man said he is trying to change the negative narrative around his stunts by launching a fundraiser through his social media accounts for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Chase hopes to raise $10,000 and said he’s trying to use his notoriety to, in part, help people realize that “we’re not just a bunch of thrill-seekers, we’re not just a bunch of hot-headed teen jerks like we are. “. always written to be.” He said that he wants to “channel as much of this attention, that my missions and stunts can attract as much good as humanly possible.”

The CMHA confirmed that it approved Chase’s fundraising campaign. While Chase doesn’t encourage people to take the risks he does, a CMHA spokesperson told CTV News, “We understand that some people may be tempted to do so. We ask you not to.”

CTV News asked Chase if he is worried about being arrested by the police. He refused to answer our question, although he noted that he feels the warmth of the authorities every time he posts a new video, but that won’t stop him.

As our interview drew to a close, the masked roofer said, “The only thing consistent in my life has been climbing buildings, and I’d like to keep doing it until I die.”

Then he walked into the concrete jungle of Toronto still wearing his skull mask, his anonymity intact.

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