Heidi's Blog

Wednesday, November 5, 2008, 09:15 AM ( 6 views )  - Posted by Heidi
“This week a story about the Rhino ran front page in the Wall Street Journal . There have been several Spin-offs of that story running in papers today. I am pleased that it is bringing awareness to the accidents and deaths caused by the Rhino. Hopefully this awareness will help save other families from the painful path mine and that of other victims are on. -Heidi”

Here is one of those stories:
Date Published: Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Federal safety officials are investigating the Yamaha Rhino, a popular off-road-vehicle that has been linked to 30 deaths. Unfortunately, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has not set safety standards for vehicles like the Rhino, which it classifies as a utility terrain vehicle, or UTV. Another class of off-roaders, all terrain vehicles (ATVs), are subject to safety standards.

While off-road vehicles are involved in hundreds of accidents every year, critics say the Yamaha Rhino ATV is even more likely to be involved in one particular type of mishap - rollover accidents. They charge that the Yamaha Rhino is top heavy, and it has tires that are extremely narrow. These design defects make it far more likely that the Yamaha Rhino will tip and rollover while going through a turn, even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow speed and is on a flat surface. Furthermore, the Yamaha Rhino is designed in such a way that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover accident.

Victims of Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents usually experience broken or crushed legs, ankles or feet. In some cases, victims have been permanently disabled, and have had limbs amputated following a Yamaha Rhino rollover accident. When Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents involve children, the results are often fatal. Just last month, two little girls were killed in such a Yamaha Rhino accident.

Critics of Yamaha has say the company has been slow to acknowledge the Rhino ATVs rollover problems since the vehicles were first introduced in 2003. In September 2006, Yamaha Motor Corp. sent a letter to the owners of Rhino ATVs warning that the Rhino was prone to tip while going through sharp turns. However, the wording of the Yamaha letter seemed to place much of the blame for Rhino rollover accident injuries on the victims themselves. Yamaha warned passengers of the Rhino ATVs to use seatbelts, and to keep their hands, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. The letter also included information on handling the Rhino if it should start to tip over. But since Yamaha sent the 2006 letter, it has become increasingly apparent that the actions recommended by Yamaha do little to protect passengers involved in Rhino rollover accidents.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Yamaha appeared to finally take the Rhino’s safety issues seriously. At that time, the company offered free modifications to the owners of new and used Rhinos. These modifications included the addition of doors to the ATV, as well as additional handholds.

The CPSC decision to investigate the Yamaha Rhino was based on reports of accidents and deaths involving the vehicle, as wells as the high number of product liability suits - 200 - filed by people who claim they were injured by the Rhino. Vehicles like the Rhino aren’t classified as ATV because of design differences such as having a steering wheel, in contrast to the ATVs’ handlebars. But neither are off-road vehicles subject to the much-tougher standards for cars.

Yamaha continues to stand-by the Rhino, and says it voluntarily complies with some federal standards for vehicle parts, such as seat belts. It also appears that Yamaha and other makers of UTVs are trying to head-off mandatory safety standards by proposing their own voluntary rules. Last year, Yamaha and other makers of the vehicles formed the Recreational Off Highway Vehicle Association, which will set those standards.

But critics of the Yamaha Rhino are still pushing for mandatory standards. Earlier this year, Congress passed such safety rules for ATVs, and they go into effect in April. Proponents of mandatory standards for UTVs say such similar rules would allow the CPSC to act quickly if it spots an apparent safety problem, because a failure to meet the standard can lead to a recall or civil penalty.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 at 7:16 am and is filed under Legal News, Accident.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 04:42 PM ( 7 views )  - Posted by Heidi
Victorville man dies in ATV accident

October 27, 2008 - 12:22PM
ADELANTO • A 56-year-old man died when his all-terrain vehicle rolled and dragged him through the open desert north of Adelanto, officials said.

Mikhail Ayrapetyan of Victorville went off-road riding in his 2008 Yamaha Rhino allterrain vehicle about 10 miles north of Adelanto at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, according to Officer Jeff Perez, spokesman for the California Highway Patrol.

When Ayrapetyan did not return to his friends' and family's base camp, they became concerned and began searching the area, officials said.

After about 45 minutes of searching, the friends located Ayrapetyan's dead body in an unincorporated area of Adelanto about 2.5 miles west of Highway 395 and just north of Buckhorne Canyon Road, officials said.

Ayrapetyan was riding at an unknown speed over a rough section of trail when he was ejected from the Rhino and became entangled within the left front side of the vehicle and dragged, officials said.

Paramedics pronounced Ayrapetyan dead at the scene at 7:43 p.m., officials said. The CHP is investigating the incident.

Ayrapetyan was not wearing a helmet or seatbelt, according to the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office.

At this time, alcohol or drugs are not suspected as a contributing factor to the fatal incident, officials said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 02:09 PM ( 8 views )  - Posted by Heidi
Memphis Commercial Appeal
Families, schools mourn girls killed in ATV crash

By Yolanda Jones (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The families, friends and schools of two 11-year-old girls killed over the weekend
in an ATV accident struggled to deal with their deaths Monday.
Emily Bates and Lauren Dilworth were killed shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday when the
four-wheeler they were riding in flipped as it went off the pavement in the Southern
Trails subdivision off Miss. 305 in the Lewisburg community near Olive Branch.

Neighbors reported hearing a loud noise and seeing the overturned 2005 Yamaha Rhino
and calling for help, police said.
Lauren, a sixth-grade student at Lewisburg Middle School, was pronounced dead on the
scene. Emily, a sixth-grader at Southaven Middle, was taken to Baptist Memorial
Hospital-DeSoto, where she died in the emergency room.
At both girls' schools Monday, counselors met with students and moments of silence
were held.
"She was very well-liked by her peers and loved by her teachers," said Lauren's
principal, James Brady, at Lewisburg Middle/High School. "She was a strong
Levi Williams, Emily's principal at Southaven Middle, said, "She was an exceptional
soccer player, playing on two Southaven recreational leagues, and a member of the
Southaven Middle School band, where she played the trumpet."
He said her favorite subject was math.
Susanne Koenig, a friend of Emily Bates' family, said Emily, one of six children,
was "tough as nails" and "crazy about soccer."
"She had been playing since she was 5, and we just knew that she was going to go to
college on a soccer scholarship because that's how good she was," Koenig said.
She said Emily and Lauren recently became friends after the two families, both from
Alabama, were introduced.
The Dilworth family had moved to the area from the Tuscaloosa area four months ago.
The day of the accident, the girls were preparing to go to a Halloween corn maze. As
they waited at the Dilworth home, they decided to go around the block in the ATV.
DeSoto County Coroner Jeff Pounders said the Yamaha Rhino four-wheeler was not like
basic ATVs.
"This one had a top, room for two passengers, a steering wheel and was much heavier
than the basic ATV," he said. "There were seatbelts in it, but apparently the girls
did not have them on."
DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco said no other vehicles were involved in the
accident, and the girls were the only ones on the ATV.
He said there were no witnesses, but authorities believe the vehicle flipped as it
hit the curb. There's no law requiring ATV riders to be a certain age, but Rasco
said the girls weren't supposed to be on the roadway.
Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a safety agency that monitors
ATV safety, reported there were 80 ATV-related deaths in Mississippi for children
under 16 from 1982-2002.
A total of 237 ATV deaths were reported from 1982-2006 in the state. This is the
first ATV-related death in DeSoto County this year.
"This has been really hard for the families," Koenig said. "Emily's classmates at
Southaven signed yards and yards of red paper and sent it to her family to let them
know how much Emily meant to all of them. She will be truly missed."
A memorial service for Emily Bates will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Baptist
Church, 7200 Swinnea Road in Southaven.
Services for Lauren Dilworth will be at 1 p.m. today at Corinthian Funeral Home
Chapel, 506 Kilpatrick St. in Corinth.
In lieu of flowers, the families requested all memorials be sent to St. Jude
Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 09:32 AM ( 3 views )  - Posted by Heidi
I have been fortunate enough to be able to tell J.T.’s story and the stories of other victims quite a bit lately. It is a healing process, I believe, to tell people in a position of power exactly what the Rhino has cost me and others. I know that as I methodically climb this ladder eventually in the sea of faces I meet there will be one with the willingness and tools to make a difference in the lives of those who live on after the ones we lost too soon. Everyday there are more people added to the death toll of the Rhino. Just yesterday I received an infuriating call about two eleven year old girls who died on the same Rhino. Those families are just beginning the journey some of us have come to know too well. I wish we were to a point already where these too young lives didn’t have to be lost. We are not, but we WILL BE. There are very few things that people have an undying passion for, saving people from this fate has become mine and I am encompassed by an army of strong and stubborn advocates working hard everyday toward the same result of saving lives.

From the information I have gathered I believe the odds of a rollover on a Rhino are about 50%. Think about that compared to a game of Russian Roulette where the odds of dying are about 16%.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 09:37 AM ( 3 views )  - Posted by Heidi
“Dreams, ideas, and plans not only are an escape, they give me purpose, a reason to hang on.”

Life happens when I want it to and when I don’t. I seem to be locked up in a heap of confusion that needs sorting , the weight of the task is too much, and the days click by. I am not sure if everyone feels this way or it is unique to the grief over J.T. because I can no longer remember life’s simplicities before our tragedy. Each day is overwhelmed with thoughts of conquering and surviving the moment at hand, so consuming that making plans for the future doesn’t have room to squeeze into the process. I think often, If I am so engrossed with surviving the moment, how can I enjoy it or learn from it?

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