A 48-year old man from Leadville, Colorado, was found unconscious and bleeding Tuesday after the all-terrain vehicle he was driving rolled about a mile and a half down the summit of Hagerman Pass in the Mt. Massive Wilderness Area near Aspen. According to the Aspen Times, a hunter called authorities from the top of the pass after finding Todd Shepherd lying unconscious on a road near the summit. The man is reported to have life threatening injuries, but the specific nature of his condition hasn’t been released.
Medical workers from the nearby Thomasville and Basalt communities north of Aspen were dispatched to the scene. The team called upon a medical helicopter after discovering the extent of Shepherd’s injuries. Unable to land at the scene, the helicopter landed instead at the summit of Hagerman pass where it was met by the responding medical team who had transported Shepherd by ambulance. The helicopter flew Shepherd to Denver hospital.
Shepherd’s case underscores the importance of taking every safety precaution when riding an ATV, especially in remote wilderness areas that may be difficult for emergency workers to access. Solo drivers such as Shepherd who are seriously injured in an ATV rollover or collision may go unnoticed unless they are found by chance. Police reports say that Shepherd was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
ATV accidents have climbed dramatically in recent years. The numbers are especially high in states with large swaths of wilderness and rural areas, where ATVs are used for a number of utilitarian purposes in addition to being popular for recreational use. On average, ATV accidents are responsible for approximately 700 deaths and 135,000 injuries every year.