School year memorable for the wrong reason

Several students have been killed or injured

KINGMAN ­ Deaths and life-threatening injuries among children have made this fiscal year a painful learning experience for many local families.

The trail of tragedy began Sept. 12, 2004, when a 1993 Ford Explorer carrying seven juveniles rolled over on North Bacobi Road in Golden Valley.

Mishaunna E. Bowling, 15, of Kingman was flown from the scene to Kingman Regional Medical Center, where she died from trauma. A male in the vehicle suffered critical injuries and was airlifted to University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Golden Valley residents held a candlelight vigil on Oct. 6 to remember two 11-year-old boys who died two days earlier.

Tyler Severson and Tanner Auld-Bosar were riding separate off-road motorcycles on Teddy Roosevelt Road when they collided head-on with a Ford Explorer. Both boys were pronounced dead at the scene.

On Oct. 17, Anthony Alan White, 17, of Kingman was driving a 1978 GMC pickup that left the roadway and rolled on U.S. 66 near milepost 72.8. All five teens in the vehicle were ejected.

Eugene Wesley Sole, 18, of Golden Valley died at the scene of massive trauma. Barbara Ann Sole, 16, of Golden Valley and Alexander Thomas Gardner, 17, of Kingman were airlifted to UMC and admitted with trauma injuries. White was admitted to KRMC with trauma injuries.

Christopher West, 17, of Kingman was the only occupant of the pickup to escape serious injury. He was treated and released from KRMC.

Jaydee Becker, 14, is a Kingman Junior High School pupil who was critically injured in a pickup truck accident April 20. He was airlifted to UMC with head trauma and admitted in a coma.

Kingman High School student Lars Welch, 18, was critically injured in a car accident six days later. The Golden Valley teen also was flown to UMC in Las Vegas and admitted in a coma.

These are some of the more serious incidents involving area children, whose educations have ended or at least been disrupted by tragedy.

"I'd say we're on a par with what we've seen in past years," said Jim McCabe, chief deputy with the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

"What we're seeing with our increasing population is an increase in the number of off-road vehicles like ATVs and motorcycles. They're one of the largest complaints we receive, and they result in some serious injuries."

Parents also are buying their children more mini-motorcycles called "pocket bikes" that sell for $200 to $300, McCabe said. They can't be legally operated on streets or sidewalks, leaving only parking lots for their use, but some young riders run them anywhere they choose, he said.

Parents should think twice about what they buy their children and how those items will be used, McCabe said.

Larry McGill, captain of operations with the Kingman Police Department, said one accident of the type described here is too many.

"When you're riding in the back of pickups without restraints, that's pretty dangerous for anybody," he said.

"People with more experience tend to look further than the immediate ride, which may be why adults are more prone to ensuring they're belted in. Young people don't understand the momentum (from a collision) can carry them out of the pickup."

The approach of summer leads many people to think of fun, but it should be a time of safe fun, McGill said.

"SUVs are a lot of fun, but when you ride in them you need to remember they have a different center of gravity (from other passenger vehicles)," he said. "It would help to have an experienced driver train the young folks about them.

"Some folks think about recreation with them and that nobody will get hurt. But sometimes if there is no instruction on them, we wind up with kids hurt."

McCabe said SUVs are gaining in popularity, and as more of them take to the roads, the number of accidents involving them proportionately rises.

He was asked if the "I'm invincible, nothing can happen to me" mentality of his own childhood is still prevalent today among young people.

"Without a doubt," McCabe said.

"Everybody at that age doesn't stop to think of what could happen. Out of all the victims you find, I don't think one of them would have started their day believing they would become a victim."