A 12-year-old girl died last week after she suffered brain injuries in an all-terrain vehicle accident in a dirt field on April 8. Two days after the accident, Arlene Marie Ochoa’s family was forced to take her off life support because of the severity of her brain injuries, according to an article published in The Bakersfield Californian.
Arlene was a passenger of an ATV driven by her 13-year-old aunt, her best friend, as they traveled through a dirt field in the 2300 block of Macau and Areili streets, according to a Kern County coroner’s office release. She fell off the ATV and struck her head.
According to eyewitness reports, Arlene had been having so much fun on the vehicle that she kept letting go and holding her hands up, her father Robert Ochoa told the newspaper. Some of Arlene’s relatives were also present when the incident happened, but were facing the other way when the accident happened, he said. Arlene was a spirited girl who played soccer and had numerous friends and a beautiful heart, her grieving father said.
At first the Ochoas thought their daughter would make it through the injuries, but tests revealed that Arlene was in fact, brain-dead. Bakersfield police detectives are investigating the accident and still don’t know whether any California vehicle codes were broken. Under California law, anyone driving an ATV off-road must wear a helmet and anyone under 18 must secure a safety certificate to operate an ATV, Terry said.
It is not clear from this article whether the young girl was wearing a helmet. But here’s what we know about ATVs. Although ATVs are toys, they are powerful toys that can turn deadly. They are powerful vehicles that can travel at speeds of 70 mph. They are not designed to carry passengers.
But the sad fact is if this girl had been wearing a helmet, she may have survived without serious injuries. Anyone riding an ATV should be wearing a good quality helmet. The best helmets are the ones that fully protect the face as well as the head. That way branches won’t be able to strike the child in the face when he or she is riding.
Several safety web sites also stress the importance of proper eye protection. Good vision is essential in order to safely ride an ATV. That’s why it’s important to wear goggles or a shield to protect the rider’s vision at all times.
Do not let young children who can’t drive a car drive an ATV without property training, experience and maturity of decision making. Be sure they are always wearing quality safety equipment.
Just like a car, the owner of an ATV is statutorily liable for injuries suffered at the hands of the ATV’s negligent driver, weather it be injuries to a person or property. A negligent ATV driver is liable for damages just like a negligent driver of an automobile.
Call me with any questions regarding injuries in an ATV accident. Our legal and medical team have extensive experience with brain injury victims. John Bisnar, 800-259-6373.