On Your Side Investigation: Dirt bikes and ATVs can be a risky r - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

On Your Side Investigation: Dirt bikes and ATVs can be a risky ride in Alabama

(Radley ORear after accident. Source: Brandi ORear) (Radley ORear after accident. Source: Brandi ORear)

Radley ORear, 16, had been riding dirt bikes and ATVs since he was four-years-old. Like other kids and teens in his Walker County town of Parrish, he didn't have a lot of fear about the dangers that come with recreational vehicles.

"It's just fun, that's what I enjoy," said ORear.

The fun ended February 25, 2017 when ORear crashed a friend's dirt bike into a vehicle on a Walker County road. In typical fashion, he was riding a wheelie down a road, not wearing a helmet or other safety gear. He suffered a spinal cord injury, but could have easily been killed.

"I used to act crazy and I wasn't scared of them," ORear said.

WBRC interviewed ORear at an intense physical therapy appointment at Children's of Alabama. With the assistance of occupational therapist Niki Reitz and physical therapist Lindsey Greenwood, ORear was able to shuffle across the therapy room while supporting his upper body on a wheeled walker. He's been working hard at appointments twice a week, attempting to walk for the first time since the accident. Shortly after the dirt bike he was riding collided with a car, he was airlifted to Children's of Alabama where he underwent an eight hour surgery and faced six weeks of recovery in the hospital.

His mother Brandi ORear has accompanied him to every appointment, quitting her job after his accident to help him get better.

"It just amazes me how far he's come," Brandi ORear said. "From seeing him laying in the hospital bed and not being able to feel nothing, to where he is today, it's amazing."

Brandi ORear is emotionally drained from the ordeal, but thankful her son is alive. She said she made her children wear helmets when they were little, but as they've gotten older, it's been harder to enforce safe riding rules.

"What I want to get out to these kids and to the parents is I slacked off," she said. "I am lucky to have him with me," she added.

Dr. Kathy Monroe in Pediatric Surgery Medicine at Children's of Alabama said they see at least one case a day of a child severely injured on a recreational vehicle.With dirt bikes accidents, head injuries are common. ATVs tend to roll over and Dr. Monroe said she's seen passengers as young as 18-months-old.

"Unfortunately, they tend to die when they have multiple injuries," Monroe said. "If I could get one point across is, ATVs are not for passengers," she added. "They are not for little children. We see that all the time, well meaning, loving parents and grandparents putting the 2-year-old on the ATV with them."

How young is too young to ride? Alabama law doesn't specify a safe riding age, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until age 16. Dr. Monroe recommends parents talk to their kids about riding safe and consider waiting until they are older in allowing them to ride.

"We forget they're not toys, these are dangerous vehicles," Dr. Monroe said.

Radley ORear said he'll wait two years before he gets on any recreational vehicle and in the future, he'll wear a helmet.

"I'm not going to act crazy like I used to," said ORear. "I'll take it easy now."

Click here for more on ATV safety. Click here for more on dirt bike safety.

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