Quad bike kids 'playing Russian roulette'

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 14:57 19/05/2014
Richard Bowling
PAINFUL REMINDERS: Former Awatere Valley farmer Richard Bowling wants people to get the message that quad bikes are not safe for children. His daughter died 14 years ago in a quad bike accident. Inset:Georgina Bowling was 8 when she died.

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Adults who allow children to ride quad bikes are playing Russian roulette with their lives, says a Blenheim man who lost his daughter in a quad bike accident.

Richard Bowling said that 14 years on from the death of his daughter, Georgina, the message about quad bikes was still not getting through.

"The dairy [industry] are just the same as they always were, and for us it's been going on for 14 years," he said.

Bowling and his late wife produced a video in conjunction with ACC and the police after the death of Georgina, who was 8 when she died.

Police education officers took the video into rural schools to teach children about safety on quad bikes, he said.

But Bowling said public backlash last week to a $15,000 fine received by Rai Valley farmworker Rangi Holmes for not wearing a helmet and carrying helmetless child passengers on his quad bike just showed that people had not learned.

This was despite an average of five deaths, and 850 injuries caused by quad bike accidents each year.

The death of 4-year-old Tai Tapu boy Timothy George MacAvoy earlier this month had particularly struck a chord for Bowling and his eldest daughter.

"It brought home to me, and for both of us, the terrible danger that children are in and I personally do not, and my daughter as well, want to hear of more episodes of children dying on them . . . because you have that feeling for a minute of horrible regret."

Bowling had been trimming a hedge just metres away from Georgina when she had her fatal accident.

"I only had my back to her for a couple of minutes . . . I learned my lesson the hard way and it appals me when I see it [still occurring]," he said.

Georgina and her sister were not usually allowed on the quad bike, but Bowling had allowed Georgina to ride it that day on flat land, while he was watching.

"The main message I want to get across is this - the next time you put your child on that bike just take a deep breath, and just think for a minute ‘this might be the last time I see you alive'," he said.

Bowling felt the fine imposed on Holmes was large, but action was needed to get the message across.

"I'm sure for that fellow it's a lot of money for him to find but at that end of the day the issue of accident, death and maiming on the quad bike continues."

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"I don't undervalue the fact that for farmers they [quad bikes] are very valuable and of course there are thousands of them that get started every day that don't cause a problem, but there are some that do . . . . it may not be today but someone some day will die and some day it will be their kids." kat.duggan@mex.co.nz

- The Marlborough Express

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