Teen dies in UTV crash Monday

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

One teenager died and another was seriously injured in an UTV crash that occurred in Saline County Monday afternoon, Aug. 3.

According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol crash report, Sydnee M. Soendker, 17, and Katelin R. Stiles, 17, both of Blue Springs, were in a Polaris Ranger UTV on Mariner Avenue when Soendker lost control of the vehicle. The UTV then skidded and traveled off the right side of the road, struck a ditch and overturned. Both of the girls were ejected, according to the report, and the vehicle came to rest on its wheels.

Soendker was pronounced dead at the scene by a Saline County deputy. Stiles was transported by air ambulance to a Columbia hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The crash occurred as the vehicle was traveling north on Mariner Avenue at 270th Road — approximately 1 mile southeast of Route O between Marshall and Slater.

Soendker’s next of kin has been notified. It was reported that this was MSHP Troop A’s 36th fatal crash and 41st fatality this year.

This was the second fatal UTV/ATV crash in the area since Sunday.

According to another MSHP report, 43-year-old Carl Arnett Jr., of La Monte, died after the ATV he was driving on a private road near U.S. Highway 50 in Pettis County overturned while negotiating a slight curve. The vehicle landed on top of him. The crash occurred at an unknown time Sunday evening, Aug. 2, and he was pronounced dead on scene shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3. The reports indicate none of the people involved in either crash were wearing safety devices.

Marshall Fire Chief Tony Day stated emergency personnel do work quite a few ATV and UTV accidents, but noted the vehicles are not dangerous if they are used for their intended purpose.

“Generally, people are safe if they wear their safety belt, don’t use excessive speed, and do not drive on gravel,” he said. “We’ve had several fatalities where they roll over. If you’re fastened in, the roll bar can save you. But we have had people pinned under those.”

Day noted people do drive them every day, saying they are great transportation on a farm. But he stressed that they are tools, not toys.

“They don’t have air bags and built-in safety features like a car,” he said. “If you wear your safety devices and use them what they are designed for — if you need to move some hay or dirt or use it when you go hunting — they are a good tool. People think they’re safe … it’s human nature to become relaxed in those situations — just like a motor vehicle. People get relaxed and start speeding and don’t wear their seat belts.”

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported a total of 35 ATV-related deaths in Missouri from 2015-2017. According to information from healthychildren.org, at least 73 children younger than 16 died and 26,700 were seriously injured by ATVs in 2015.

The AAP urges the following safety tips, especially for children:

—Riders should always wear motorcycle-style helmets, eye protection and sturdy shoes.

—Don’t ride double. Most ATVs are designed to carry only one person, and passengers can make the vehicle unstable.

—All ATV riders should take a hands-on safety training course.

—Stay off public roads. ATVs lack the common safety equipment found on vehicles for street use, and their tires are not designed to grip pavement.

—Children should not drive an adult-model ATV, which can reach speeds of up to 80 mph.

—Never allow nighttime riding.

—Do not drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or even some prescription medications.

—When buying an ATV, choose one with a seat belt, roll bar, engine covers, and a speed-limiting device.

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