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7-year-old killed in Braselton ATV accident

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A Braselton boy was killed Monday evening in an accident on Davenport Road.

Between 7:30 and 8 p.m., Michael Samples, 7, was riding in his parents’ yard in an all-terrain vehicle with his brother, 5, and a female relative, 10, said Maj. David Cochran, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

As the girl drove the ATV beneath a semi trailer, Samples, who was sitting in the passenger seat, struck his head on part of the trailer, causing severe trauma.

When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, people at the house were attempting CPR, but the child was already dead, according to the West Jackson Fire Department.

Samples’ parents were nearby at the time of the accident.

Cochran said he doesn’t expect any charges to be filed.

Unlike many states, Georgia has no minimum age requirement for ATV drivers, nor is there a law requiring ATV riders of any age to wear a helmet.

Mark Bellows, sales manager at Gainesville Motorsports on Browns Bridge Road, said ATV manufacturers and dealers in the U.S. have voluntarily agreed not to sell a full-size vehicle for use by anyone younger than the age of 16.

He said there are two categories of scaled-down models designed for ages 12 and older and ages 6 and older.

"There’s nothing available for children under the age of 6," Bellows said.

Bellows said people tend to underestimate the power of an ATV. "There’s a false sense of security because it’s more stable than a motorcycle," he said. "It’s easy to go too fast."

Kim Martin, coordinator of Safe Kids Gainesville/Hall County, said her organization does not recommend ATVs for children younger than 16, period.

"It’s not a toy; it’s a motor vehicle," she said. "Kids lack the physical strength, cognitive ability and fine motor skills (to safely operate an ATV)."

Martin notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics also opposes the use of ATVs by children younger than 16.


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