East Texas Family Encouraged By ATV Safety Campaign - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/06

East Texas Family Encouraged By ATV Safety Campaign

"[He] kept you going all the time... just brought joy to your heart," says Lisa Conner. 

"[He's] a true giver," says Tom Conner.

They're talking about their son Stephen. Five years ago, his young life was cut short when the 7-year-old was killed instantly riding an ATV. 

"There was nothing on the ground. He wasn't on a hill. It just turned over on it side," says Tom recalling the accident.

"ATV's are very dangerous," says U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Nancy Nord.

The biggest hazard: kids riding ATV's meant for adults.

"They don't understand the power of these vehicles. They don't understand that if they shift their weight the wrong way the vehicle will tip," says Nord.

But in the Conner's case, their son was riding what's called a mule. It doesn't go as fast as a typical ATV and the repercussions were still tragic.

"We won't ever own one," declares Lisa.

About 25% of the people killed in ATV accidents are children under 16. Dealers aren't supposed to sell adult ATV's if they know they'll be used by kids.

The CPSC's push for new regulations include free training provided by manufacturers and mandatory warnings to buyers about ATV hazards.

The Conners believe this safety campaign is a good thing.

But they say adults putting it into action will keep other kids from becoming a statistic.

"When it comes down to it, people are going to, like we did, do what we think wouldn't be harmful and it does happen," says Tom.

Stephen would have just celebrated his 12th birthday last Friday.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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