Father facing charges in ATV crash that injured daughter

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities say the father of a 7-year-old Mesa girl injured in an all-terrain vehicle crash will be facing charges.

“It's a 7-year-old on an ATV, on a public road way, without any protection,” said Sgt. Tony Landato with Mesa Police. “Based on the totality those events this father will be charged with endangerment.”

Mesa police say the unidentified girl was listed in stable but guarded condition Monday at a Mesa hospital.

She's being treated for a head injury after she crashed into a wall in her neighborhood.

Authorities say the girl's 30-year-old father had been teaching her how to drive the ATV when Sunday's accident occurred.

Mesa Fire Department officials say the child was not wearing a helmet.

She was driving the ATV by herself and lost control of the vehicle.

"He just almost got her. The little girl kept going and ran into the wall face first and smashed her whole face in," said witness David Walker.

Authorities say she hit a street curb, was thrown off the ATV and hit the wall head first.

"She jumped on and he tried to stop her and he like tried to jump out and stop her but he didn't get a chance to," said witness Destyne Freeman.

The father's name hasn't been released yet.

Steve Downing owns Firestar Racing in Mesa. He grew up on ATV's and is excited to have his daughter someday follow in his footsteps.

But he stresses safety first.

“It can be extremely dangerous if you put a kid on a bike that goes 40 miles per hour,” said Downing. “It can get out of control quick and result in serious injury or even death.”

As a result, Downing outfits many ATV's with a governor that control speed and leashes that can immediate kill the engine.

Some ATV's are even sold with a remote control so an observer can stop it at anytime.

Cody Pawlak used those tools while teaching his kids to ride. He said they now understand the danger.

“They can't touch it without me and if they want to get on it have the have all their gear on,” said Cody Pawlak who also controls where his kids ride. “Dirt only, trails only...I won't even ride my bikes on the street.”

The key to kids and ATV's Downing says, “You have to make sure they can control the vehicle and wear the right gear.”

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