Grieving Family Issues Plea About Children Using ATVs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/23/05

Grieving Family Issues Plea About Children Using ATVs

"We got the cups and everything out and dyed Easter eggs. We did it every year," Constance Pickens said.

But this year, Constance Pickens won't be able to celebrate Easter with her grandson. Earlier this month, 9-year-old Zach Moss was killed in an ATV accident in Saucier.

Constance says it didn't have to happen.

"I'm begging parents, grandparents, for your children, your grandchildren, protect your children. If they get on these ATVs, make sure that they're the appropriate age, weight and know what they're doing to keep them safe."

Zach was riding an adult-sized ATV when he was killed. While there are no laws restricting the age of an ATV rider, warning labels are posted on all ATVs--big and small.

"All the ATVs come with them. The adult size have 16 and above," said Suzuki City Store Manager Michael Nasakaitis.

ATV vendors say there's a good reason for these age-restrictive warning labels.

"It's easy for an adult to walk over and turn the handle bars on a small ATV, whereas you get an 8 and 9-year-old and a midsize 4-wheeler and it's a lot of work to turn them," Nasakaitis said.

Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for a ban on selling adult ATVs for use by anyone under 16. The academy cited records that show kids who use the adult-sized ATVs are twice as likely to be hurt as those driving youth models.

"If something like that could be passed, I would be grateful because that would mean that another family wouldn't have to go through what we've gone through. I don't wish any family to have to go through this," Pickens said.

Zach was just 12 days shy of his 10th birthday when the accident occurred. He was a student at West Wrotham Elementary. The school is planning to plant a tree in his memory. No word yet on when that will be.

by Toni Miles

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