A 23-year-old Scottsdale man was killed Saturday evening after losing control of his all terrain vehicle and striking a tree.
Mathew Czerski was traveling on Forest Road 99, near Forest Road 175, in Forest Lakes around 6 p.m. when he lost control of his ATV on a curve, struck a tree and was ejected, said Coconino County Lt. Tim Cornelius.
He was not wearing a helmet, Cornelius said. He died on scene before authorities arrived.
Czerski was riding by himself, but his father was camping in the area, Cornelius said.
This is the fourth or fifth ATV death this year, Cornelius said.
“It is higher than normal,” he said. “We usually have a couple a year, but it seems like we have had twice that.”
On the same weekend, a Phoenix couple riding an ATV on a dirt road, north of the San Francisco Peaks, came around a corner, lost control and struck a tree.
Both were airlifted to the Flagstaff Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, Cornelius said.
Every year more than 800 Americans die in ATV-related accidents and more than 145,000 are injured, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
From 2003 to 2006, there were 46 reported ATV deaths in Arizona. Since July, there has been at least four ATV accidents, one of them fatal, said Gila Country office assistant Michelle Keegan.
Gila County Det. George Ratliff said he noticed an increase in number of accidents, but not the number of deaths.
Cornelius said because of high gas prices, people are buying two-seater ATVs because they are cheap to drive.
All drivers should learn to drive within their means and watch their speed, “because speed definitely seems to be a factor,” Cornelius said.
Wearing the proper safety equipment and taking a safety course will help cut down on the number of accidents, he said.
For more information on ATV safety, local laws and national and state data, visit www.ATVSafety.gov.