A 61-year-old Mesa woman was killed during a family vacation when her all-terrain vehicle toppled over a cliff Sunday, police said.
The woman, Andrea Walters, was pronounced dead at the scene by Forest Lakes emergency personnel after she lost control of her quad all-terrain vehicle, and tumbled down a slope on Forest Service Road 33 at the junction of Forest Service Road 34. She was not wearing a helmet, Det. George Ratliff of the Gila County Sheriff's Office, said.
Ratliff said Walters, most likely unfamiliar with the ATVs controls, pressed the accelerator instead of the break, hastening her fall down the embankment where she hit a tree.
Walters and her family were vacationing in Forest Lakes when her husband, Jack, brother-in-law and sister-in-law decided to ride their ATVs on the nearby mountain roads.
Although Walters had ridden motorcycles before, she was not familiar with the vehicle's model, Ratliff said. The quad was a Polaris 700 four-wheel drive, according to the GCSO report.
Walters' family declined to comment.
According to Ratliff, ATV accidents are common in the Rim country because people are not always familiar with the vehicles they are riding.
"People don't know what they're doing. They just take (the ATVs) out and run them," he said. "You need to match your expertise to the machine."
Additionally, helmets and knowledge of the terrain are essential when riding ATVs and motorcycles, said Tammy Pike, off-highway vehicle coordinator for the Tonto National Forest.
"In general we ask that everybody wear a helmet," Pike said. "Just like any vehicle, you should always get familiar with a vehicle in an area you're familiar with before riding it."