A combination of alcohol and off-roading led to a fatal ATV accident on Saturday, April 15. The driver, a Grass Valley woman with a prior DUI charge, was driving down Old Coach Way on a 2007 Yamaha Rhino, a four seat ATV.
At some point, the driver lost control of the vehicle. The ATV flipped over, ejecting the passengers, including a 31-year old female victim who was reportedly not wearing a seatbelt at the time. The ATV continued to roll until it landed on top of her, causing severe trauma. Witnesses provided immediate aid and called for assistance. Paramedics arrived and airlifted the victim to a Roseville trauma center, where she died from her injuries later that evening.
Driver and other passengers reportedly fled the ATV accident
According to a California Highway Patrol spokesman, the driver of the of the Yamaha ran from the scene, along with her fellow passengers. She would be found at her home shortly after the accident, where CHP officers determined that she had been driving under the influence. It was also quickly discovered that she has a previous DUI conviction.
However, social media users claiming to be acquaintances of both the driver and the victim say that reports of the driver fleeing from the scene are false.
The driver remains at the Wayne Brown Correction Facility in Nevada City. She has been charged with felony DUI, and homicide. The CHP continues to investigate the incident, and believes there may be more arrests in the near future in connection to the ATV accident.
ATV accident causes far from limited to drunk drivers
This accident has the hallmarks of a typical DUI accident: impaired driver, improper use or non-use of seatbelts, and challenging light conditions. However, an ATV accident can happen even to drivers who are fully aware of their surroundings. A driver who follows all the rules of the road, and takes all safety precautions, can still be caught in a fatal accident. Additionally, while ATVs can be driven on paved roads, many are not designed for it. This increases the risk of a roll over accident under the right conditions.
Many ATVs do not provide complete protection for the users, a threat that is especially prominent with quad-wheeled bikes. While helmets can reduce the risk of serious head injury, 29 percent of all ATV injuries are to the head and neck.
The tragedy in Grass Valley highlights once again the dangers of driving under the influence, and the dangers of operating an ATV unsafely.