HARRISON COUNTY, IN (WAVE) - Indiana conservation officers are investigating two separate all-terrain vehicle accidents with injuries that happened Saturday in Harrison and Washington Counties in addition to a deadly off-road vehicle crash in Harrison County.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), conservation officers responded to Floyd Memorial Hospital shortly after midnight on Saturday regarding the Washington County victim and learned of a second accident victim from Harrison County.
The Washington County incident happened on Ramsey Lane, just outside Pekin. DNR officials said Jeremy Gilbert, 36, of Salem was crossing a field in an ATV when he lost control and flipped over an embankment, injuring his ankle and head. Investigators said alcohol is believed to have played a role in the accident.
The Harrison County incident involved Elizabeth resident Cody Eastridge, 17, who, according to DNR officials, was traveling at a high rate of speed on Stuckey Road outside Elizabeth on an unregistered off-road motorcycle. He lost control of the vehicle and flipped, resulting in a fractured skull and head trauma.
Investigators said neither Eastridge nor Gilbert was wearing a helmet or safety equipment.
"Safety equipment includes chest protector, eyewear, knee pads, gloves, those types of things, but at minimum, a helmet," said Indiana Conservation Officer Jim Schreck. "I would think most people's lives are worth a 50 or $75 helmet."
Schreck said the department is worried. They've seen a rash of ATV accidents and "typically summertime is our peak time, so it does concern us a little bit that we're having so many so early," Schreck said.
He said many times, people will jump on an ATV thinking they'll go on a quick ride and underestimate how serious the machinery is.
"They're very difficult to maneuver, especially for inexperienced riders," said Schreck. "Alcohol is also a factor, unfortunately, or have been in the last few ones. Quite honestly, I know some sober people that cannot operate them, and that's just given the fact they're very hard to maneuver."
Schreck said ATVs are reasonable in price and are great for farming and hunting. They're popular with teenagers, but they need to have the proper size.
"'Make sure it's the proper size for them," Schreck said. "We see kids on these big adult ATVs, so that's a big issue. Make sure they're wearing a helmet, and last, but probably most importantly, is supervision. These are not, contrary to popular belief, these are not babysitters. They're not toys."
A third incident on Saturday involving an off-road vehicle on Tee Road in Harrison County resulted in the death of a Floyd Central High School student.
Chase Brannon, 17, was a passenger in the vehicle when it ran off the road, hit a tree, overturned and then hit a second tree. Brannon was pronounced dead at the scene.
The 19-year-old driver suffered a head wound and road rash. He is expected to recover. His name has not been released.