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Health Team

Sanford teen survives ATV wreck

Posted February 28, 2011

— The snow this past Christmas lured many North Carolinians out for sledding. Some, like 15-year-old Joe Godfrey, of Sanford, buzzed around on all-terrain vehicles.

Godfrey rode on the back of an ATV driven by his father, John.

“That was like the first snow. They were having a good time,” Godfrey’s mother, Tonia, said.

The fun ended when Joe Godfrey sensed the ATV was tipping.

“He bails before it tips. So, when he bails, his side comes across and hits a tree,” Tonia Godfrey said.

The teen was wearing a helmet, but it was his abdomen that took the hit.

“He basically hit the hospital door here and we took him right up to the operating room because we knew his injuries were severe enough,” UNC pediatric surgeon Dr. Patty Lange said.

Lange said Godfrey suffered lacerations to his liver, kidneys and spleen.

Joe Godfrey Helmet did not prevent injuries in ATV accident

“He stayed up here in Chapel Hill for 28 days, and 20 of that was spent in ICU,” Tonia Godfrey said. “It was scary.”

Godfrey's father was not hurt.

Godfrey still needs a drain catheter for the bile duct from his liver, and he might have lost the use of one kidney.

It's an experience that might have scared some families away from ATVs, but not the Godfreys.

“It was just a freak accident. It could have happened to anybody,” Tonia Godfrey said.

The teen has even been back on the bike.

“They go right back to them, and I don't think the public always knows how dangerous they can be,” Lange said.

The teen said he plans to be more careful.

Between 2007 and 2009, there were 64 reported deaths in North Carolina linked to ATVs. Many of them involved children under the age of 16.

North Carolina does have several laws concerning ATVs, with age limits and vehicle size limits for different ages.

15 Comments

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  • NC Reader Mar 4, 8:53 a.m.

    JoCo -- You'd have to look at the percentage of fatal accidents per ATV or car rider to compare the two. Numbers alone won't work. I suspect the percentage is much higher for ATVs. However, I'm much more concerned about danger from cars because those drivers are typically on the public highways (where I am) whereas ATVs are normally on private land. Bullfrog, however, knows that they don't always stay on private land.

  • NC Reader Mar 4, 8:49 a.m.

    I don't know many people who ride these, but even so I know three people who were killed or permanently, severely disabled while riding one.

    They are dangerous. I'm not for banning their use, because it's almost always just the driver, not an innocent bystander, who is injured or killed. However, I do believe that their use by anyone younger than sixteen should be banned. Once you're driving age, you can decide for yourself whether to take the risk.

  • Arapaloosa Mar 4, 8:41 a.m.

    Bullfrog, it sounds like the problem was an irresponsible parent not training their kid on proper operation of the ATV, not the ATV itself.

  • WASP Mar 3, 4:35 p.m.

    I hit a kid on one of these things many years ago. He came down a hill out of woods and across the road. No helmet, no seat belt, no regard for anyone but himself. Fortuntately for him and me, he only received a broken arm and some minor cuts and scrapes. The kicker to this story, I was sued by his dad to pay damages to the ATV and the NCHSP was going to charge me with unsafe movement. I didn't have to pay for the ATV and didn't get charged after paying a substaitial attorney fee. Morale to this story. I despise ATV's.

  • Arapaloosa Mar 3, 10:57 a.m.

    "Between 2007 and 2009, there were 64 reported deaths in North Carolina linked to ATVs."

    During the same period, nearly 4,000 deaths in NC in car accidents... just saying...

  • Retired07 Mar 3, 10:14 a.m.

    How do you legislate common sense? Anything can be a killer in the wrong hands. The 'Invincible Crowd" will always be out there endangering themselves and anyone that will follow their lead.

  • Hater like Darth Vader Mar 3, 8:32 a.m.

    I like how his mom calls it a "freak accident". I would have to classify this under operator error, not freak accident.

  • beachblues1 Mar 2, 5:32 p.m.

    If it had been a gun that caused the accident, the antigunners would be out in droves. Let's face it, 2 people on an ATV is trouble.

  • Z Man Mar 2, 12:39 p.m.

    No one calling for banning ATVs? Have we all come to our senses and realize that some of the more dangerous things in life are also the most fun? And that if we know these things are dangerous and do them anyway then that decision is up to us and not the goverment to say we can't? Or are all those that want to ban everything still asleep?

  • Desiderata Mar 1, 4:05 p.m.

    Freak accidents do kill!

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