ATV injuries: a reader comments

by Chris Klein, publisher

ast month, we ran an article titled Injuries and deaths from all-terrain vehicles are increasing dramatically. I generally get very little comment on stories of this ilk. What letters I do get tend to be from angry off-road enthusiasts who somehow feel that I want to abridge their God- and Constitution-given right to mayhem.

    So if was a surprise when I opened the following letter (email), and found this sad little tale that I want to share with you:

    I would like to see more advertisement banning children from riding ATVs. My life was forever changed April 12, 2002 when my 12-year-old son's friend let him ride his Kawasaki Byou 220 ATV. He was easing up a small incline out of a washout, it started spinning, he let it roll back, gave it the gas. The ATV flipped back over onto him with such force that it crushed his skull.

    When I got to him he had no vital signs. My 16-year-old daughter and son's friend helped me get him out of the washout. I got his heart beating and somewhat breathing, giving him CPR until the ambulance got there. He was pronounced brain-dead the next day.

    Zack was as close to being the perfect son any parent could dream or ask for. I didn't even know he was on the 4-wheeler until my daughter screamed that Zack was hurt.

    Children are going to get on these machines, regardless of how many warnings are stuck on them or how much training they have had. The parents that haven't gone through the experience I'm going through have no idea.

    Zack mentioned being an organ donor at the age of 10. We met his wishes; that's the kind of person he was. I would like for people to know that organ donation does make a difference in a lot of peoples' lives. My family and I have met and visited with a beautiful 16-year-old young lady that got Zack's heart transplanted into her, so at least a big part of him lives on and this little girl and her family get another chance at life.

    I really would like to see more articles on banning kids from ATVs. It may make a lot of people mad, but they are ignorant of the danger, unfortunately, until it happens to them.

    I know that I'm not the only parent to lose a young child, but my life is all messed up because multibillion-dollar companies like Kawasaki are allowed to let thousands of children get killed and injured every year without care or help whatsoever.

    Whitehouse, T