A 5-year-old girl from Iron County, Utah has been hospitalized with injuries she received when the driver of a Yamaha Rhino she was a passenger in lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree. Four other girls ages 5 to 9 were also in the vehicle and suffered minor injuries.
According to Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower, the girls were riding the Rhino on a private ranch about 40 miles west of Cedar City in southwestern Utah near the Nevada and Arizona borders. The Rhino’s driver, a 9-year-old girl, hit the tree at a high rate of speed.
Gower told the Salt Lake Tribune that “the force of the wreck broke the bolts holding the seat.”
Gower identified the 5-year-old girl who was seriously injured as Avalon Carlisle. The girl suffered head trauma from the Rhino’s roll bar and was taken to Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City, where she was airlifted to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. A hospital spokesperson told the Salt Lake Tribune on Monday that the girl was recovering and in good condition.
The other girls went to private homes following the crash and Sheriff’s deputies had to track them all down. Sheriff Gower told the Tribune that the four other girls were then taken to Cedar City for medical attention.
None of the girls was wearing a helmet.
On public land in Utah, it is illegal for anyone younger than 8 years old to drive an ATV. All drivers ages 8 to 16 must have a safety training certificate if operating on public lands.
However, Utah state law does not place any restrictions on the use of all-terrain vehicles on private property. Nonetheless, police are screening the case for possible negligence charges.
Investigators were told that the girls took the vehicle on their own without permission. Nevertheless, Gower told the Tribune that the girls’ parents or guardians could be held accountable.
“It was negligent and charges could be filed against whoever allowed it or allowed them to continue riding,”
Gower told the Tribune that the owner of the Rhino lives in Colorado City, Arizona and was not present when the crash occurred.
Ann Evans, the off-highway vehicle coordinator for the Utah Division of State Parks, told the Tribune that she sees a “disturbing trend” at some popular off-roading locations with mothers holding their babies in chest carriers while riding.
Babies and children are especially prone to receive traumatic head injuries on an ATV, either from the rough, jarring motion of the vehicle or by striking their heads on a hard surface in the event of a crash or rollover. Helmet companies do not make helmets for infants.