A Rockford family continues its bedside vigil Thursday night as a teenager struggles to live. He suffered severe head injuries in an ATV accident Wednesday night. Neighbors say the tragedy points to how dangerous ATVs can be.
"The boy was coming down here, he was about here, she came over, hit him." A family's nightmare played out right before Bonny Tessendorf's eyes Wednesday night... "She hit it again and then he went airborne."
Tessendorf was driving home when an eighteen year old girl driving an all terrain vehicle (ATV) slammed into her fifteen year old brother on his mini-bike. Neighbors say the boy's name is Willy Wolfang. He suffered serious head injuries and is in critical condition at OSF St. Anthony's Hospital.
Tessendorf says she's seen so many kids speeding ATVs around the neighborhood that the accident didn't really surprise her. She says, "I've been expecting it to happen. I mean I'm real sorry that it did happen."
Neighbors say all too often they see kids riding ATVs right out in the street, which is illegal, and where they have other full-size cars to compete with.
"Generally they're inexperienced drivers that are riding these types of vehicles and they're riding them in the way they would ride a bicycle or something that's off-road and not necessarily following the rules of the road," says Rockford Police Sgt. Dane Person.
Sergeant Person says ATVs should stick to field areas designated for them. There are no state age regulations for who can ride ATVs and they do not require a license. ATV companies set their own age guidelines based on the size of the vehicle. Police say always wear a helmet and they recommend taking an ATV safety class. Meanwhile one Rockford family hopes its not too late for their son to learn his safety lesson.
Rockford police are still investigating the accident to see if any charges will be filed. There was one other serious ATV accident in Rockford back in August.