It was a winter day, and Greyson Kuykendall and his peer, Colton Rucker, were prepared to hit a nearby trail on four-wheelers.
The Grace Community School seventh-graders took proper precautions. They put on helmets. They stayed away from pavement, and Greyson's father, Ren Kuykendall, went along to supervise.
Once the three set out, Greyson took the lead with his friend behind him and his father in the back. Kuykendall said he and his son lost sight of Colton, who had gone off the path into a ravine. Greyson went for help, and his father helped get Colton out of the ravine and performed CPR.
Fortunately Colton walked away from the incident with no broken bones, and only suffered bruising on his torso, back and thighs.
A miracle she hopes reminds others of how important ATV safety is when they ride this summer.
According to ATVSafety.gov, as of Dec. 31, 2010, there were 781 estimated deaths associated with ATVs nationwide for 2009. Data for 2009 is still incomplete.
The website states that reported ATV deaths in Texas from 1982-2006 was 424.
“We won't sell them an ATV that's not recommended for that child. These machines are like loaded handguns. You have to inspect them,” he said.
Customers are encouraged to follow the manufacturer's minimum age recommendation warning label on the ATV.
Ward said his store also checks the person's riding experience and passes on information about free training courses, which are usually in the Dallas area. He recommends locations for riding, such as mud parks in Jacksonville.
Randall Latch, dealer principal at Fun Motors of Longview, echoed Ward, saying that accidents occur because of people and not the machines.
Like Ward, he also noted the importance of safety courses, which teach people how to offset body weight so ATVs don’t roll on them.
“It boils down to improper use. The vehicle is as safe as the operator,” Latch said.
He said he also tells customers to wear the safety gear, such as a helmet, gloves and boots, as well as long pants to protect from scrapes from any bushes, vines and limbs.
“None of us go out and expect a crash,” Latch said. “You’re protecting yourself from the unexpected.”
But Mrs. Kuykendall said parents watching children can greatly impact a situation because they’re more inclined to ride fast if they’re alone and no one’s watching them.
As for Colton, he hasn’t ridden an ATV since the accident earlier this year and doesn’t like to talk about the incident, the Kuykendalls said.
Still, he wanted to return to the site and did so quietly.
“We thought it was important for him to see God’s grace in his life — how God has him here for a reason and to learn from that experience, (that) ‘God has something great for you because you’re here,’” Mrs. Kuykendall said.
Colton’s mother, Heather Rucker, said she took away from the experience gratitude for the fact that God is in control.
“He takes care of situations we don’t see coming but also as parents we have to have conversations with other parents and find out ‘What are the plans for the day?’ ‘What are we going to be doing?’
(Riding ATVs) isn’t in our normal realm of activities, so I didn’t think to ask those questions…,” she said.
“The Kuykendalls really did everything right. They were doing their best to be safe. It wasn’t’ like they just unleashed the boys and accidents can still happen. It took a second, and I almost lost my son … I would encourage families to have those conversations. Be diligent with their kids and then trust God…God gets all the glory for this situation.”