Woman uses tragic loss to help save others

By Molly Reuter - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

WINNSBORO, TX (KLTV) - This is a warning for all ATV riders. If you, or someone you know owns a Yamaha Rhino 450 or 660 listen up.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said repairs need to be made to prevent accidents that have killed 46 people since 2003. Sadly, one of those victim's was a nine-year-old boy from East Texas. His mother's fight to prevent another death may have helped spark today's changes.

"I feel like one person on a mission can do anything if there is hope," said Heidi Crow of Winnsboro.

It was a victory, almost two years in the making for Crow. Yamaha's announcement won't bring her son J.T. back, but Crow says his death now holds an entirely new meaning.

"We were shocked, and we couldn't believe it," she said. "It is the first time I've felt joy, real joy, in 21 months.

J.T. was killed in June of 2007 when the Rhino 450 he was riding in rolled over. It is these types of accidents Crow says she and other victims around the country have been fighting to stop by asking Yamaha to make the Rhinos safer.

"When you go out and purchase a side by side, and you think it's going to improve the quality of your life and add fun to your family, it should do that, not destroy it," said Crow.

The CPSC said two repairs are needed on the Rhino 450 and 660 to help reduce the chance of rollover and improve handling. First, the installation of a spacer on each of the rear wheels. Second, removing the rear anti-sway bar. East Texas Yamaha dealerships say they are aware of the changes.

"Anyone that owns one, or anything, if you've had a problem in the past this is something Yamaha is offering as a free upgrade to them," said Kyle Hughes with H & W Honda and Yamaha.

Crow said, right now, she just hopes everyone takes the warning seriously.

"What happened to J.T. should not happen to another family," she said.

The CPSC did not include the Rhino 700 as one of the models that need the repairs, but Yamaha says it will include the Rhino 700 in its free repair program. For more information, click on the Big Red Box, and find the story "Yamaha Rhino Repair Program."