Death On Course Clouds "Mud Nationals" Event - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/4/2008-Cherokee County

Death On Course Clouds "Mud Nationals" Event

It is bringing thousands of people to East Texas, but a dark cloud is over the Mud Nationals.

32 year old Samuel Shane Howard died Thursday at Mud Creek Off-Road Park near Jacksonville. The Cherokee County Sheriff says Howard, who was from Batesville, Mississippi, was riding his 4-wheeler when it went off the road and fell on top of him. We're told this death is the first in the event's history. But it has many wondering what's being done to keep you and other participants safe out there.

With thousands of people around many didn't even know about the accident... Others heard rumors.

"I heard he was showing off driving fast. I don't know if that's true but that's what i heard," said Mike Upshaw from Louisiana.

We asked Cherokee County Sheriff James Campbell about Samuel Howard's death.

"The people with him left last night. It's a very sad situation. Probably some people hadn't heard about it. People coming in as you can see right now. But it did put a little damper on it as for the owners and people with him," said Campbell. 

It's not known right now if alcohol was involved in this accident, but it's an issue officials want to keep a handle on.

"I have officers at the event and there are many off duty officers here hired by the mud creek park to work security as well night and day," said Campbell.

Park owner's this year enforced a new rule, banning the ATV riders from drinking and driving. A rule that their security officers are to enforce.

"A lot of families come up here. You will see some of them with small children riding real slow. That is the kind of environment it is supposed to be. But you always have those that do what they are not supposed to do," said Campbell. 

Despite the 30 to 40 officers on duty at all times, they say the first responsibility falls on the rider.

"If we see somebody acting like a total idiot intoxicated or whatever we will take care of it. But it's up to the rider. We can't enforce the law for 12 to 15 thousand people out here. The security hired off duty and my officers do the best we can," said Campbell. 

Hopefully, the fun and games of this event will not be marred by tragedy again.

At the event last year, 14 people were transported by air with severe injuries, but there were no deaths.

Danielle Capper, Reporting dcapper@kltv.com

 

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