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Published April 23 2012

Death of 8-year-old is third child ATV fatality in LaMoure area in recent years

BERLIN, N.D. – An all-terrain vehicle crash that killed an 8-year-old boy here Sunday afternoon marks the third time a similar tragedy has claimed a child’s life in the area in recent years.

The victim, Jacob Andrew Shockman, died after the ATV he was driving on the family farm rolled over, pinning him underneath the vehicle. A 5-year-old passenger was treated at Jamestown Medical Center and released.

Shockman’s death comes three years after 13-year-old Jacob Long, also from a farm near Berlin, died after an ATV rollover while doing farm work. And four years before that, Tristan Long, Jacob’s cousin, died in a similar crash. Tristan was 8.

Jacob Long and Tristan Long were classmates at Edgeley Public Schools. Shockman was a student at LaMoure Public Schools. Edgeley, Berlin and La-Moure are all located on a 20-mile stretch of North Dakota Highway 13, about 100 miles southwest of Fargo.

Rick Diegel, superintendent of Edgeley Public Schools, said the latest tragedy brought back bad memories.

“It‘s just, how can that similar type of accident happen again out in that same area?” he asked. “Some of the same people have been on all three ambulance runs.”

When he heard about the accident, he quickly contacted the LaMoure superintendent – who couldn’t be reached for comment for this story – to put him in touch with the Edgeley counselor who was instrumental in helping students cope with the earlier tragedies.

For classmates as young as Shockman’s, “it’s going to take some time for these kids to understand what happened.”

In 2010, the most recent year for which data has been compiled, 317 people died in ATV crashes, according to the Consumer Product Safety Condition. Of those, 55 were children under the age of 16, and 26 were children younger than 12.

Between 1982 and 2006 – years for which state data is considered complete – 50 people died in North Dakota ATV crashes. Nineteen of those – nearly 40 percent –were 16 or younger.

Under North Dakota law, ATV drivers are supposed to be at least 12 years old, and are required to wear a helmet until age 18. Jacob and Tristan Long were not wearing helmets, and it’s not yet clear if Shockman was.

But Diegel said it’s hard to judge the way families use the machines, which have become widespread on farms and in rural areas because they can get to places cars can’t.

“I think ATVs have become very similar to what horses were a few years ago,” he said. “Everybody had a horse, and that’s how you got from once place to another.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502

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