News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 30, 2007

ATV accidents on the rise as popularity of vehicles increases, police say

ATV accidents responsible for 136,000 ER visits in 2005

TERRE HAUTE — In the past week in the Wabash Valley, one man died and two were hospitalized with serious head injuries after unrelated accidents involving all-terrain vehicles.

The deaths are indicative of a dramatic rise in the number of ATV accidents, which authorities say corresponds to an increase in sales of the vehicles.

Gary R. Cornwell, 59, of Georgetown, Ill., was seriously injured Saturday from head injuries after an accident at Mule Ridge ATV park on Indiana 63, near Hillsdale. Witnesses said he tried to climb a steep hill when the ATV tipped over backwards.

Brett A. Eitel, 22, of Marshall, Ill. died from injuries he suffered in an ATV crash Saturday on Livingston Road, near Marshall, Ill.

Wayne Smith, 49, of Jasonville was seriously injured May 22 when he lost control of his ATV while driving in Jasonville on a county road. The ATV rolled over him, according to a news release from Indiana Conservation Officer Max Winchell. Smith was carrying a passenger, 29-year-old Shad Robling, who was thrown off and suffered injuries to his hands, arms and face. Smith was taken to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis by Air Evac helicopter, and later released.

Less than three weeks ago, a town marshal was killed in an ATV accident in Cayuga.

Louis Beam, 68, of Cayuga, died in the evening hours of May 14 in Indianapolis’ Methodist Hospital after being airlifted with injuries suffered in a May 12 ATV accident. Beam and his wife Janice had been riding their ATV in a charity event when they rear-ended another ATV on Vermillion County Road 150 in Clinton.

In Spencer County in southern Indiana, a 7-year-old boy died Sunday when the ATV he was riding flipped over on his father’s property.

Such accidents are on the rise as sales of ATVs increase, according to Conservation Officer Winchell.

“Emergency-room visits are going up,” he added. “There were more than 136,000 emergency-room visits [in 2005] in the U.S. because of ATV accidents. And there were 748 deaths,” Winchell said.

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