5 hurt, including 4 girls, when ATV apparently malfunctioned - myfoxcarolinas.com

5 hurt, including 4 girls, when ATV apparently malfunctioned

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Michelle Reaume said, "I just couldn't do anything.  It just all happened so fast." Michelle Reaume said, "I just couldn't do anything. It just all happened so fast."

In rural Sumpter Township in western Wayne County, open space and four wheeling are the norm.  But Michelle Reaume said what happened early Sunday morning behind her Haggerty Road home was anything but normal.

"I learned how to drive on a four wheeler," Reaume said.  "I've been riding four wheelers my whole life."

Four children and one adult were injured after Reaume, who was hosting a backyard bonfire party for family, friends and their kids, lost control of her ATV.

"I couldn't do anything about it.  I immediately wheelied, and I couldn't turn.  I couldn't break," she said.

It was just after midnight.  The 23-year-old said she decided to take one last ride.  She was making a turn by a tree and claimed the throttle got stuck.

From pictures taken at the scene, you can see a pink tent and a bonfire.  Police said at estimated speeds around 45 miles per hour, Reaume ran over that tent full of sleeping children.  The four wheeler kept going, then flipped and struck the adults who were sitting in chairs by the bonfire.

"She was returning to where the campfire was located, and the throttle stuck open.  She didn't know how to maneuver it into a safe place," said Detective John Toth from the Sumpter Township Police Department.

"I just couldn't do anything.  It just all happened so fast, and as soon as it happened, I just got up, and I ran, my adrenaline was running, and I just called 911," Reaume said.

Officers from Sumpter, Huron and Van Buren townships responded to the chaotic scene.  The tent was full of ten- and eleven-year-old girls.  Three of them were rushed to U of M's Mott Children's Hospital.  One suffered minor head injuries.  Another had a serious injury to her spleen, and the third young girl suffered severe head injuries and will have to undergo surgery to get a metal plate in her head.

One adult woman was injured.  She fractured her knee.

Police are investigating, but they said they believe this is just a tragic accident.  Alcohol was present at this party, but they said they don't believe it was a contributing factor.

"In this particular accident, it appears as though the four wheeler malfunctioned," Toth said.

"I feel awful.  I feel like it's my fault," Reaume said.

She won't be facing criminal charges, but said she doubts she will ever ride a four wheeler again.

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