By Randa Wagner
For the third time in 15 days, an ATV accident has claimed the life of a Morrow County resident.
The Ohio State Patrol reported on Monday that Zachary T. Sahr, age 22, of Mount Gilead, was a passenger on the rear of an ATV and fell off onto the roadway at 12:30 a.m. Sept. 7, 2015.
The accident occurred on County Road 137 as Justin Hoffman, age 22, of Marion, was operating a Suzuki Quadrunner ATV, eastbound on CR 137. Sahr was a passenger on the vehicle.
OSP Post 59 said helmets were not used and alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash. Sahr was pronounced dead on the scene. He was transported to the Franklin County Coroner’s Office.
The Cardington Township Fire and EMS, and Morrow County Sheriff’s Deputies were on scene for assistance and traffic control. OSP stated this is the third fatality in 2 years with the involvement of an ATV on public roadways in Morrow County, but it is also the third ATV fatality in the county in two weeks.
Though circumstances were different in each accident, Morrow County Sheriff Steve Brenneman emphasized ATVs are not toys – they are motor vehicles that go at excessive speeds.
“ATVs are on off-road vehicle and are not supposed to be driven on roadways unless they are licensed,” he said. “Two of the recent deaths were on the roadway.”
All terrain vehicles are used for riding trails though the hills, creeks, streams, on farms, crossing difficult terrain during hunting season, and for just plain fun. But there is a lot of responsibility that comes with operating any machine.
According to data collected by the Mayo clinic, children account for about one-third of ATV injuries and one-quarter of ATV fatalities. This increase in accidents and deaths from ATVs has officially surpassed the number of children injured or killed in bicycle accidents in 2014. The most common injuries from ATV accidents in Ohio and around the country included arm injuries and head or neck injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.
Mayo Clinic injury prevention coordinator Todd M. Emanuel, R.N, says ATVs are prone to accidents because they have a high center of gravity and are easy to tip over.
“Most kids don’t have the size, physical strength and balance to control these vehicles, especially adult-sized ones,” he told the Mayo Clinic last year. It’s just too much machine for small bodies.”
According to Emanuel, rollover accidents in ATVs are the most common due to the unstable center of gravity. He said driving ATVs on paved roads is particularly dangerous because the wheels do not contact the pavement the same way car wheels do.
Brenneman urges riders to use common sense, safety, have the proper equipment, supervision, and training when riding off-road vehicles.
Yourohiolegalhelp.com advises to always wear a helmet; even on private property; avoid driving ATVs on paved roads; keep additional passengers to a minimum to avoid gravitational upset; pay careful attention to surroundings and avoid areas with drop-offs, trees, and objects sticking out from the ground, such as sharp rocks or stumps; and do not allow children under the age of 16 to operate an ATV unsupervised.
“And,” Brenneman adds, “no alcohol or drugs.”