In what was a horrible tragedy during a family’s Thanksgiving Day get-together, a 12-year-old Paso Robles girl died when she crashed while riding an all-terrain vehicle with her cousins and uncles, according to an article in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Ashlyn Vargas reportedly went to California Valley on Thanksgiving Day morning to drive ATVs with her family members just before their planned celebration. Ashlyn was reportedly driving an ATV described as a “quad with a roll cage” on flat ground, when she lost control. She was ejected from the vehicle and then the ATV rolled and landed on the girl, crushing her.
Ashlyn’s cousin, also 12, who was riding another ATV nearby, ran to a family member’s house in the neighborhood to get help, the article said. Ashlyn’s uncle tried to resuscitate her with CPR, but that did not help. Ashlyn was pronounced dead by paramedics on the scene.
What a horrible tragedy for a family on Thanksgiving Day! A young girl, who reportedly had a passion for life, was in her junior high cheerleading squad and loved hanging out with her friends and pet animals, was dead in an instant.
It’s not clear from this article if Ashlyn was wearing a helmet. But an article posted on KSBY TV’s Web site reports that family members say the girl was not wearing her seatbelt. They told reporters that Ashlyn was always the one to remind everyone to buckle up, but on that fateful day, in her excitement to ride her ATV, she forgot.
She got too comfortable, Ashlyn’s father tells KSBY TV.
“…the girls kind of kept swapping bikes back and forth and she jumped in and she didn’t put a seatbelt on. She got a little fishtailed and when it rolled, it ejected her and it rolled on top of her,” he said.
There are many questions to be asked in this case. Were the children being supervised when they were riding the ATVs? Were they wearing protective gear? Had they rode ATVs in the past or was this their first time? Did they even know fully how to operate an ATV?
The most common misconception among many adults is that ATVs are toys. That’s a myth. The reality is that ATVs are real vehicles with real power. Most ATVs can reach speeds of 100 miles an hour or more and that’s serious speed – even for an adult! If a child – even if he or she is a teenager – has not had adequate training to handle such a vehicle, they should not be riding one, period.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Vargas family that is dealing with a tough loss. But we also urge parents and caregivers to use this opportunity and pause to think before letting a child zoom off on one of these powerful machines. The holidays are particularly a prime time for people to get together and ride ATVs, especially in California. This might also be the time to exercise extreme caution and care. If you must let them ride, please take all possible precautions, ensure that they are supervised, that they are wearing protective gear and are of course, buckled up.