Product Liability

Holiday season turns tragic for many ATV owners

This holiday season has been a tragic one for many ATV owners and their families. Recent reports nationwide tell of people of all ages becoming seriously injured and in some cases dying in ATV rollovers and other accidents.

In Maryland, Joseph Paciera, 24, died Tuesday night when he lost control of the ATV he was driving and struck a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, a 21-year-old Maryland woman was rushed to the hospital, where she is being treated for life-threatening injuries. Authorities say that the ATV rolled over and landed on top of Panciera and his passenger.

KOMO News in Seattle reports that a 41-year-old man was critically injured when his ATV crashed on a city street in West Seattle late Christmas night. The man was riding his ATV with a friend, who did not witness the accident because he was driving ahead of the victim when the accident occurred. The injured man was admitted to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center, where he is being treated for life-threatening injuries.

In Miami, two children who received an ATV as a Christmas present last year were flown to the hospital with serious injuries on this Christmas day. A 15-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister were riding the ATV when it hit a bump in the road, causing the ATV to lose control and run head-on into a car that was in motion. Authorities weren’t sure if the children were wearing any protective gear when the accident occurred.

Further north in Central Florida, a 7-year-old child was critically injured while driving an ATV on private property on Christmas Eve. The ATV struck a small tree, throwing the child from the vehicle around 2 p.m. The child was airlifted to a Tallahassee hospital. Charges will be filed because of the incident, according to a report by the Florida Highway Patrol.

In yet another incident in Florida, a 27-year-old Cape Coral man received severe head injuries when his ATV rolled over on Christmas day. According to police, Justin Sears, the victim, was not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. His 3-year-old passenger, who was wearing a helmet, suffered only minor injuries.

Sadly, an 11-year old girl died near Jacksonville, Florida when the ATV she was driving rolled over and landed on top of her. The victim, Carmen Jenkins, was a fifth grader at Rusk Intermediate School. The accident occurred at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 20. Carmen was visiting her grandmother and grandfather in Red Springs when the accident occurred.

A 51-year-old man died in Oregon when he was thrown from the ATV he was driving on Monday, December 22. Investigators at the scene of the accident said that the ATV apparently spun out in the heavy snow, catapulting Gary Boyko of Boring, Oregon into a fence made of railroad tie posts not far from his home. Boyko’s death was the result of “blunt force trauma to the chest.”

Any number of factors can be responsible for an ATV wreck, whether it be serious design flaws, lack of safety gear, irresponsible drivers, or a combination of things. The tragic events of this last week should remind us that all ATVs should be handled with caution and driven responsibly. More unstable ATVs, such as the Yamaha Rhino, should be handled with extreme caution or avoided altogether, as some safety advocates and victims believe.