Neighbors concerned for ATV safety after child dies in crash

Author: Camila Pereira
Published: Updated:

A 6-year-old boy lost his life in a single ATV crash Sunday afternoon in Lehigh Acres, and neighbors said it’s a death that could have been avoided.

Kellen, who lives across the street from where the accident happened, said his ring doorbell camera caught the moment the ATV rolled over onto the dirt path. As dirt flew around, he and his family rushed in to help.

“We just saw like a cloud of dust,” Kellen said. “We know he flipped. And we just rushed out there and that’s how everything started.”

The child flew off of the ATV after the 29-year-old driver hit a ditch along a dirt path near Sunshine Boulevard. The man survived, but the boy died at the hospital.

Neighbors said the child would most likely have been safe if he had worn a helmet.

“I’m sure he felt safe, even without the helmet,” Lehigh Acres resident Debbie Collins said. “But, you know, you do have to take the extra step when you’re on those things. And I don’t like it when I see kids by themselves on him, especially with no helmet and stuff.”

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle laws, anyone under the age of 16 driving or riding an off-highway vehicle is required to wear a helmet and eye protection and be under adult supervision.

Lee County advocates following the state laws, as ATV riders must ride on designated trails only, and only drive on unpaved roadways where the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour. In other words, at a safe speed.

But ATV safety is something many people who live in Lehigh Acres said they don’t see drivers and riders take seriously, having their fair share of the number of traffic fatalities visible on the sides of the roads.

According to Lee Health, from 1982 to 2016, staff got over 3,000 reports of ATV-related fatalities of children younger than 16. This is 22% of all ATV-related fatalities during this same period.

And while Lee County Sheriff’s Officer stepped up law enforcement crackdowns of ATV use on public land in 2017, neighbors said they have only seen speeding and crashes from both cars and ATVs on Sunshine Boulevard get worse.

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