Kershaw County sixth-grader latest S.C. child to die on ATV

jmonk@thestate.comJune 26, 2011 

An 11-year-old Kershaw County boy became the latest South Carolina child killed while riding an ATV over the weekend on a county dirt road, officials said Sunday.

Kyle Kelly, a sixth-grader at Stover Elementary School, suffered major head injuries and died at the scene Saturday after his 2004 Suzuki ATV tipped over, pinning him under the ATV, said county coroner Johnny Fellers.

Kelly was not wearing a helmet, Fellers said.

The incident happened about 2:30 p.m. near the intersection of Green Hill and Whitehead roads.

Kelly’s ATV was going east when it steered off the road, into an embankment and overturned.

The S.C. Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident, did not say how fast the Suzuki ATV — which weighs more than 350 pounds — was going.

A new ATV safety law requiring all South Carolina children to wear helmets and to have training to drive the tricky-to-operate vehicles will go into effect Friday.

Under the new law, all children 15 and under who operate an ATV will be required to both wear a helmet and take an ATV safety course.

The law, called Chandler’s Law after a Lexington County boy who died eight years ago while riding his ATV, took years to pass. Many lawmakers resisted such a law, saying it was unwarranted government intrusion into family affairs.

In the last 10 years, 64 children under 17 are known to have died while operating ATVs in South Carolina, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Many others have been injured, safety advocates say.

ATVs are significantly more dangerous than other children’s toys because they can weigh several hundred pounds and go more than 70 mph, said David Laird of the S.C. Children’s Trust.

The federal Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends that all children wear helmets and have safety courses before being allowed to drive an ATV. Some 45 other states already have laws mandating child safety requirements when it comes to ATVs.

-- John Monk

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