One south Georgia community is mourning the loss of two teens involved in an ATV accident. A third ATV rider is recovering and it's having a major impact on an entire town.
A four-wheeler slammed into a tree in rural Berrien County Sunday night. The damage pales in comparison to the deaths of 19-year-old Shane Thompson and 15-year-old Scarlet Barker.
Sheriff Jerry Brogdon in Berrien County says, "They (ATVs) can be a good sport and recreation to do, but you have just got to respect those things because they will harm you very quickly."
The sheriff says the ATV riders likely lost control of their vehicle on a part of Cross Creek Road before sliding off the road through the ditch and hitting a tree. He says the first two riders likely struck the tree, while the third was ejected over into a field.
The sheriff says being ejected into the field may have saved the live of 14-year-old Jessica Mortin. She's expected to fully recover from her injuries.
Investigators say the three ATV riders were not wearing helmets.
Brogdon adds, "With helmets on, it's a possibility that with the injuries they apparently had to the head, with helmets on, it might have saved them."
Locals say they hope this serves as a serious reminder of how important it is to follow state law and wear a helmet even when riding down a deserted stretch of dirt road.
The funerals for the two accident victims will likely be held near the end of the week.
All Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Safety
- Three-wheeled ATVs have unique handling characteristics. Beginning riders should get professional instruction and certification. Practice first on a level area, then in a more difficult but controlled environment, before riding an ATV in rough or unfamiliar terrain.
- Injury investigations show that the majority of accidents occur when the ATV unexpectedly encounters an obstacle, such as a rock or ditch. Do not exceed speeds that are safe for the terrain you are traveling.
- For several ATVs, the only suspension provided on the machine is the low pressure (two psi to six psi) balloon tires. Excessive speed, combined with rough terrain, can create enough pitch and bounce to cause the operator to lose control of the vehicle. Models with factory-built suspension systems are more stable and controllable over rough terrain.
- Always wear an approved protective helmet and other protective gear.
- Three-wheeled ATVs are designed for one rider. DO NOT ride double.
- Do not operate ATVs when using alcoholic beverages.
- Always read the instruction manual and follow the manufacturer’s guidance for use, maintenance and pre-use checks.
- Do not use ATVs on paved roads or streets.
- Observe local laws or regulations and any regulations that have been established for public recreational areas where ATV use is permitted.
- Since ATVs are relatively small and low to the ground, they are difficult to see. Use lights, reflectors and flags to improve visibility.
Proper Riding Posture
- Keep your head and eyes up, looking forward.
- Shoulders should be relaxed, with elbows bent slightly.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars; knees in toward the gas tank.
- Feet should be on the footrests, toes pointing straight ahead.
Recommended Sizes for Age
- Less than 70 cc: Six-years and older
- 70-90 cc: Twelve-years and older
- More than 90 cc: Sixteen-years and older
Source: www.cpsc.gov (Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site) has contributed to this report.