MARSHALL COUNTY, OK - A day of fun at the lake ended tragically yesterday when a child was killed and another was injured in an ATV accident.
The accident happened yesterday afternoon 6 miles south of Kingston near Lake Texoma. A nine-year-old girl was driving a 4-wheeler when the vehicle flipped, killing her and injuring an 8-year old boy who was riding with her.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Troopers say the kids were riding down a steep hill when the driver lost control of the four-wheeler. It rolled once, killing Summer R. Quillen of Big Springs, Texas, and injuring Jordan M. Genn of Ardmore. Troopers say it was a tragic accident, and one they see all too often.
"It's not an everyday thing, but it is a common thing, unfortunately, that we see people being killed in 4-wheeler accidents," says Trooper Ken Duncan of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Heath, over 9,000 ATV related fatalities were recorded from 1982-2007. Many of these deaths were caused by kids operating 4-wheelers designed to be ridden by adults.
They say a vehicle 90 cc's or larger is not designed for children. Folks we talked to say one key to 4-wheeler safety is to know and follow the law. Carol Conrad Is the park manager at Lake Murray State Park, and operates an ATV park on the public land.
"Well, for public areas in Oklahoma there is a state law that tells you that you have to wear a helmet if you're under 18. That law is not applicable for private land," Conrad says.
Most ATV manufacturers recommend children under 16 not operate the vehicles and children under 6 not even ride on them. However most experts we talked to say while there is no minimum age for kids to operate these machines, if they start early and develop good habits kids can operate 4-wheelers in a safe manor.
We found one young rider who already has several years of experience.
"Well I was riding with my momma when I was 4 and stuff, but now I'm 7 and I have my own 4-wheeler," Grace Lynn Nickell says.
Her mother Andrea Nickell says it's also key to make sure young riders are supervised.
"Start them when they're young, but make sure they're always with an adult."
Troopers say this accident was just that - an accident, and the good news is the little boy, Jordan, who was injured in the wreck received only minor injuries and he is doing fine.