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[Article edited for accuracy on 3-19-2009 based on reader comments-thanks Readers!]

During the off-season Outer Banks, North Carolina residents and visitors alike enjoy the off-road four wheeling/ATV excitement of driving ATV’s along the many beautiful areas of Northeast North Carolina. ATVs are allowed for year round residents (not vacationers) and licensed tour operators on the beaches of Carova and Swan Beach, between the end of Route 12 and the Virgina border, and are not permitted on Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, and Duck beaches. Although there are specific laws and regulations that allow for this recreational pastime in selected areas of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (NC) all ATV drivers alike must be safety minded and always on the alert when engaged in this activity.

Sunday afternoon, March 8th, authorities pronounced a Hubert, North Carolina (NC) man dead following an off-road ATV crash while not wearing a helmet. The victim of the accidental death was Kyle Anthony Shea, 20, who died Sunday of blunt force trauma to the head and chest. He had several skull fractures and broken ribs, according to the medical examiner’s office.

According to reports, several people were riding four-wheelers off road near William Gurganis Road on the Sunday afternoon. Mr. Shea was the second driver in line when the first driver saw a metal gate and avoided it. Because of the dust kicked up, Shea apparently did not see the gate and struck it, according to Sgt. M.W. King with the NC State Highway Patrol. Mr. Shea also was not wearing a helmet, King said.

N.C. state law states, "No person shall operate an all-terrain vehicle unless the person wears eye protection and a safety helmet meeting United State Department of Transportation standards for motorcycle helmets." King said helmet use on a four-wheeler is a "definite." Just as important is knowing the terrain you are riding the ATV on.

ATV/four-wheeler accidents/injuries share many attributes with motorcycle accidents because the riders and passengers are not protected as are car occupants. Many accidents are caused when a lead cyclist moves somewhat suddenly, and the following cycle is unable to react, or leaves the roadway surface, as an example. As this tragic case reflects, the following operator may have been spared if his cycle/ATV was a more significant distance behind the lead ATV, and the lack of a helmet was also critical, as serious injuries in motorcycle type accidents are on the increase.

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Department originally responded to the call, but the N.C. State Highway Patrol took over the investigation since it was a vehicle-collision situation. Shea’s funeral services were set for Jones Funeral Home.

Our injury law firm maintains a NE NC office in ElizabethCity, and our main law office is in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Four of our law firm’s injury lawyers are licensed to practice law in North Carolina, Virginia, and beyond. For over a decade we have been helping North Carolina residents, and those suffering injuries or wrongful death in NC.

Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia, with offices in northeast NC and Virginia Beach (VA), practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. The firm’s website is:, the firm edits three injury law blogs: Virginia Beach Injuryboard & Norfolk Injuryboard, as well as the Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects.

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