Product Liability

ATV crash kills Minnesota woman, injures another

A 31-year-old Minnesota woman died Saturday when the all-terrain vehicle she was a passenger on crashed into a tree. According to the Bemidji Pioneer, Jessica Christopherson was riding on a 2004 Honda TRX 650R ATV driven by Chad Tabaka, also 30 years old, when the accident occurred.

According to a press release from the Hubbard County, Minnesota, Sheriff’s office, Tabaka lost control of the vehicle, which caused it to leave the road and strike a tree. The accident was reported about 6 p.m. in Steamboat River Township.

Emergency workers declared Christopherson, a resident of Benedict, Minn., dead at the scene of the accident. Tabaka was taken to North Country Regional Hospital with a broken collarbone and fractured vertebra. The hospital listed him in good condition.

Authorities continue to investigate possible causes of the accident. Both Christopherson and Tabaka were wearing helmets, but ATV collisions and rollovers often result in body trauma despite protective head gear. The Honda TRX is a quad style vehicle, requiring the driver and passenger to straddle the frame. Because the vehicles lack roll bars, seat belts, and other protective features to contain the riders, quad collisions are exceptionally dangerous.

According to a recently published report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there were an estimated 816 ATV-related fatalities in 2007, the agency’s most recent estimate. In 2008, an estimated 134,900 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained in ATV accidents. However, these numbers do not include Yamaha Rhinos and other side-by-side style vehicles, which the federal government now classifies with golf carts as recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).