(CBSDFW.COM) – While many are seeking the thrill of off-road vehicles during the summer, it’s important to understand the dangers of ATVs and how to be safe. One North Texas family is familiar with these dangers all too well.
It started out as a relaxing weekend away from the city. Nine-year-old Roy Wilson talked his older cousin into letting him take a spin on a four-wheeler.
Out on the pasture, the thrill of off-roading changed the Wilsons’ lives forever.
“Roy got going too fast with his cousin still on the back,” said Roy’s mother, Crystal. “They both flew off two different ways. The four-wheeler went Roy’s way and flipped over upside-down on top of his skull.”
When he was airlifted to Cook Children’s, the nine-year-old was not expected to survive. The crash was so violent that it fractured his skull.
The Wilson family leaned on their faith and on the team at Cook Children’s.
Every year, the hospital sees about 100 children hurt on ATVs.
“Children are actually at more risk when they’re riding ATVs for serious injury than adults,” said Dr. Chad Hamner at Cook Children’s.
Dr. Hamner is a pediatric surgeon and medical director of trauma. The average age of patients is 10, but they’ve treated children under a year old.
“It’s tremendous how much force can be applied when you become a projectile and you hit a tree or you hit a fence post,” said Dr. Hamner.
Texas tops the nation with the most ATV deaths. More than 735 people have died while riding ATVs over three decades.
In 2017, three children died from their injuries at Cook Children’s.
“We are so overly protective in trying to keep our children safe, and this is the one thing that we did not do was get a helmet,” said Crystal Wilson.
Roy survived the accident, but he had to learn everything from scratch. “Speech was the last thing to come back,” said his mother.
Roy Joy — as the nurses lovingly dubbed him — is thankful for every day.
He’s still working on his speech, but he has a powerful message.
“You should always wear a helmet,” said Roy.