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Safety Officials Stress ATV Safety

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

"You have to respect ATVs, you know," said Trooper Oscar Fernandez, with the Georgia State Patrol. " They're a machine and if you don't ride them properly, you know, they can kill you."

15-year-old Valerie Walsh's life was cut short Sunday after she was ejected from an ATV.

Her passenger, Rachael O'Connor, 15, is battling head and neck injuries.

Georgia troopers say neither teen was wearing a helmet.

"The number one thing they stress is always wear a helmet when you ride an ATV," said Fernandez. "Because obviously if you're ejected from the ATV, you're likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.

Georgia State Patrol says just before 3:30 p.m. Sunday, the teens were riding a four-wheeler along the edge of a field, when they struck a tree.

Walsh was ejected from the vehicle and O'Connor ran for help.

They didn't break the law because they were riding on private property.

But troopers say they weren't taking proper safety precautions.

"There are no laws that apply to off-road use. That's the reason why it's important that you read the owner's manual."

Most four-wheelers come with one.

And the companies that make them, recommend following guidelines from the ATV Safety Institute.

The institute suggests ALWAYS wearing a helmet, that no one under 16 should ride an ATV unsupervised, to never carry a passenger and to ride at safe speeds.

Lowndes High School's thoughts and prayers are with the families.

The school is offering grief counseling to help students cope.

For more information about these services, contact Lowndes High School's counseling office at (229) 245-2260


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