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Young and Dumb

Young and Dumb
Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

There I was, young and dumb, riding a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle with no helmet, goggles, gloves or any other personal protective equipment. There were about eight of us that day, and we were out for a casual ride. Of course, we brought along girls, which meant there was no limit to our efforts to impress. We were out of control as we sped up and down the side of a mountain, never giving a second thought to the fact that we were endangering not only our lives, but also the girls’ lives.

As you can imagine, the terrain on the side of the mountain was extremely rough and covered in ditches and boulders. What’s more, just off the side of the trail we were riding was an extreme drop through trees and more boulders. We had ridden this trail several times, so we were confident in our abilities to handle whatever came our way. Maybe we were a little too confident, but more on that later.

We rode into the evening, doing tailspins, doughnuts and probably just about any other wild move you can imagine. Once satisfied we’d sufficiently burned up the trail, we decided to head back to the top of the mountain to continue our reckless riding. If you’ve ever ridden an ATV, you know it isn’t very difficult to flip it over backward. Somehow, though, we made it back to the top safely, where the real “fun” began.

The top of the mountain offered tons of areas for playing in the mud, jumping hills and racing, and we were determined to do it all — still paying no mind to the dangers we were encountering. Eventually, we started a game of four-wheeler dare. The rules were simple: Someone dares another rider to do something challenging on their ATV. That person can either accept the dare or be ridiculed by the rest of the guys. With the girls there, turning down a dare wasn’t an option. This is where I got in trouble.

There was one hill no one would jump because it was just too big. With everyone else passing on the challenge, I saw this as an opportunity to impress the girl that was with me. It was a bad idea, to say the least. I backed my ATV, lined up the jump and rolled the throttle. Everything was going smoothly until I reached the top of the hill for takeoff. At the last second, I noticed a root bulging out from the left side of the top of the hill. It was too late.

The root caused my four-wheeler to rotate as I flew 10 feet off the ground. I knew if I stayed on the ATV that the end product wasn’t going to be good, so I made the split-second decision to bail. I dropped to the ground like a rock, the impact knocking me unconscious for three or four minutes. Fortunately, the only real injury I suffered was to my bruised ego. My four-wheeler wasn’t as lucky. One of the front wheels had been bent underneath the ATV when it crashed to the ground. Needless to say, we had to pull it back to the truck.

That day, I was extremely fortunate. This was a first-class near miss. It was completely stupid to not wear any PPE when riding. All it would have taken is a small rock to have been lying in the spot where my head struck the ground and I wouldn’t be here writing this today. What I want you to take away from this is life is very fragile; the least we can do is take the proper safety precautions for ourselves and others. While we can’t prevent every bad thing from occurring, we can at least do our part to mitigate the risk and minimize the severity.

  • 1 June 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 13680
  • Comments: 0