A four wheeler accident in rural Evening Shade claimed the life of 12-year-old girl Aug. 13.
A police report obtained from the Sharp County Sheriff's Department said Ryley Martin of Bradford lost control of the 2001 Honda Rancher ATV near Black Bear Road. The report said the she ran off the roadside and collided with a rock, causing her to be ejected from the four wheeler.
Martin was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Aaron Hunter.
All terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries and fatalities in the area are continually making the news. Over the summer, there have been numerous injuries and fatalities as a result of ATV use in the area.
Perhaps the popularity and increased sales of the vehicles in rural areas for both recreation and farm use is, in part, a reason for the escalating injuries and deaths.
These senseless accidents are, in many cases, a result of improper or no training or lack of safety equipment, including helmets.
Many of the accidents which have occurred in the area were after dark, when, according to the ATVsafety.gov Web site, the vehicles should not be ridden. Other causes of accidents include children riding on adult sized ATV's and riding tandem. This was the case of the two girls who were recently severely injured in the Wirth area.
Safety courses are offered, in many cases at no charge to help new owners and riders learn the importance of safety and riding concerns. The classes cover such things as tips for riding on different terrains which can significantly lower the risk of injury to drivers.
Statistics show that the majority of injuries and deaths to ATV riders result from head injuries as a result of simply not wearing a helmet and in some cases, as with the Evening Shade death, from ejections. Many others are from rollovers, such as the death of a Cave City teenager in 2007.
Still others collide with vehicles, for this reason, riders should never ride on paved surfaces. In Sharp County, there are many gravel roads, in which riders can legally ride the ATV's, yet many where accidents occur are also heavily traveled by motor vehicles.
Because of the construction of ATV's the organization says that the majority of the vehicles are designed for one rider. Due to the amount of interaction required between the rider and the vehicle, such as the need to continually shift their weight freely, interactive riding is crucial to safety.
The number of ATV has nearly tripled since 1996, when four wheeled units became more popular than the traditional three wheelers that first interested ATV enthusiasts.
Training and protective equipment use are the keys to safe ATV riding. For tips or training in the area, visit the ATVsafety.gov Web site.