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Davis Journal

Primary Children’s has seen a 34 percent increase in ATV-related injuries

Jul 08, 2021 02:52PM ● By Becky Ginos

Chelsea Hale was killed in an ATV accident. She was not wearing a helmet.

SALT LAKE CITY—Between 2019 and 2020, Primary Children’s Hospital saw a 34 percent increase in ATV-related traumatic injuries in kids. So far In 2021, the number of those injuries is on track to meet or exceed last year’s number.

“Safety is the key,” said Jessica Strong, community health manager at Primary Children’s Hospital. “Injury prevention is something we all can do.”

“Twenty years ago on a cold, dark January night we got that dreaded call that our 20-year-old daughter Chelsea had been injured in an ATV accident,” said Karen Hale, former Utah legislator and past chair of the Board of Trustees for Primary Children’s Hospital. “We immediately drove to get to her. We didn’t own an ATV and we’d been a stickler about wearing a bike helmet. We wondered if Chelsea was wearing a helmet.”

Hale said when they arrived they were told Chelsea had died at the scene of the accident and had gone straight to the mortuary. “We found out she was not wearing a helmet. We lost a kind and caring sister, daughter and friend. It was such a tragic end to an amazing life that could have been prevented.”

Keep your children safe by being a responsible owner, she said. “Learn about ATVs. They’re powerful machines. Make sure you only use ATVs with the size and horsepower that matches the rider’s size and experience level. Helmets and safety gear are for everyone. Be an example. Model safe behavior by wearing appropriate protective gear.”

According to the CDC, Utah has more traumatic brain injuries among children than almost any other state in the country, said Strong. Kids are 1,000 times more likely to be injured on an ATV than riding in a car.”

A year ago in September 11-year-old Emelia was riding in a side-by-side when it rolled and pinned her underneath. “We were camping with family and had gone into town,” said Emelia’s mother Jessica. “About 20 minutes later we found out the razor had rolled and it had to be lifted off of her. She was life flighted to Primary Children's.”

Her condition was not good, Jessica said. “She had collapsed lungs and broke bones. The first 36 hours she was in a very critical stage.”

She had three cardiac arrests the first day, said Jessica. “She shouldn’t be alive today. She’s our miracle. She was wearing a full face helmet which was a huge part of her being alive.”

The mother later learned that Emelia’s seatbelt was not securely fastened and she fell out while others stayed seated during the crash.

“Adults should make sure seatbelts are secure for all children before driving,” said Jessica. “Families should talk about rules before they ride, such as not riding with new drivers or others without permission and never leave the keys in an unattended ATV.”

Today, Emelia is happy and healthy and shows no sign of the injuries she suffered. “I know that these kinds of accidents don’t always have a good outcome,” Jessica said. “We’re just grateful to have our daughter and to have a second chance to be her mom and dad and we hope our story can help others.”