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Yamaha Rhino Killed My 10-Year Old Daughter.

. By
Lebanon, OHOn October 27, 2007 Ellie went to her last barbeque. She was at a party with her parents and brothers. All day, people at the party were given rides on a Yamaha Rhino ATV. Early in the evening it was finally Ellie's turn. But at some point during the ride the vehicle flipped and killed her. She was just 10 years old.

"We were at a friend's house for a gathering, a family gathering, lots of families and children," said Ellie's father, John." So there was no alcohol there whatsoever, no drugs, no drug users. The host of the party wanted to make sure there would be no accidents or trouble, because there were children, and teenagers there. Our friend has about 60 acres of land, and the field that people were going in on the Yamaha was a ploughed corn field. So there was corn stubble, that sticks up a few inches, but it's not very high. The field is completely flat."

Child FuneralThe host of the party had been driving the Rhino most of the afternoon, and wanted to get back to his guests and cook some hot dogs. "So a 22-year-old man started taking people out for rides instead. He took my daughter out. He wasn't acting in a crazy way. This was about 8:00 pm," John said.

What happened next was nothing short of a tragedy. According to the accident reconstruction specialists who came out the next day, the driver of the Rhino was making a right turn. "The police think he was doing about 12 miles per hour. He was cutting across the field to the right, and the Rhino started turning left, so he immediately cut the wheel the other way. The ATV straightened up for a second, and then carried on tipping over to the right. My daughter fell out and the roll bar landed on her head. It crushed her skull," John said.

Ellie was air evacuated to a hospital. "She was on life support for 24-hours following that. But the doctors had determined early on that she was brain dead, so we made the decision to terminate the life support," John said. "There was a nurse at the party, as a guest, and she assured myself and my wife that our daughter was unconscious at the scene of the accident. Some of the witnesses said Ellie had her seatbelt on.

I have photographs of the tracks that the Yamaha Rhino made. My wife and I went out to the scene about three days later, and we couldn't believe that the vehicle would have slipped, from looking at the tracks. At first I thought it must have been the fault of the guy who was driving. But now, eight months later, after I've done a lot of research, I feel differently about it. I know now how these vehicles flip," John said.

He is aggressively pursuing Yamaha. "My lawyers have thoroughly checked this out, and talked to other lawyers that have pursued this," said John. "Personally, I have found 12 or 13 other families that have lost children between the ages of eight and 13 as a result of riding in the Yamaha Rhino. I found one family with an 18-year-old and another that was 26. I went to the Orange County Superior Court's website and there are well over 30 suits documented against Yamaha right now, for injuries related to riding in this vehicle. I was able to locate the first man who sued Yamaha, and he had broken his leg. He said the whole reason he sued Yamaha was so he wouldn't get a phone call like mine. He did not want to hear a story like mine, where a child had been killed riding in this vehicle.

Although I have masses of bills now, and am probably due compensation, I feel the same way as this gentleman. I know what it was like watching my daughter lay in a hospital bed, and making the decision to turn off life support. I know what it was like sitting in the waiting room telling her brothers that their sister was going to die now. Telling them that this will be the last time they see her. Believe me, I don't want any other parent to have to do that. It is the worst thing that anyone could ever have to go through," John said.

By his own admission, John is on a bit of crusade. "I would like this story to be told," he said. " I may be able to talk about this in a very matter of fact way, but I can guarantee that once or twice a day my wife and I have major breakdowns about it. To lose a 10-year-old girl so suddenly, is unbelievable."

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
i would habe to say that the 22 yr old was trying to get the rhino to fish tail (drift) and thats what cause it to roll even of the ground was perfectly flat just the sudden change of direction can make anything roll over. i can speak with experience with a rhino ive taken mine across steep pasture where roll overs are more likely to happen and mine has held to the ground like its glued to it.. lack of common sense is far from yamahas fault. youre the special kind of person that would blame the company that built a chainsaw if you cut your leg while operating it, and for that i cant even blame the 22 yr old that was driving it this was all your fault for not making sure your child was in a seat belt and wearing a helmet. i grew up on atvs snowmobiles dirtbikes etc. and when we had family get togethers it was nothing for members of the family that didnt have an atv to take someone elses my uncle rolled my honda foreman because he wasnt experinced enough to ride it in places where i rode everyday and never even had a wheel come off the ground and my old foreman i put right with my rhino they are both very well built to hold to the ground. i think to many amatures think that because a side by side is built like a car that they know how to drive it safely and even driving safely there are always things that can happen no one expects maybe a tire on one side is a little lower in air so a sharp turn one way nothing happens but sharp turn the other way and the low tire grips the ground harder and that will roll you over. i couldnt imagine losing one of my kids in any kind of accident but throwing the blame onto the machine

Posted by

on
Why were the seat belts not used. I would say driver and the owner of the Rhino are at fault for not ensuring a minor was seatbelted in.

Sorry for the loss. But you as the father should have inspected and insisted your daughter be buckled in safely.

Posted by

on
What a horrible story. As much as people who like to have fun with these vehicles are loathe to admit it, these are dangerous machines. If you want to have fun riding in something that has a high level of risk involved with it, I don't deny that's your right, but objectively speaking, these vehicles are not as safe as Yamaha and its advertising would have you believe. I know of a case where a professional driver (stunt driver with years of experience), driving on flat ground, going not particularly fast, rounding a corner, had one of these Rhinos roll on him. They have too narrow a wheel base combined with a high clearance / center of gravity which makes them prone to rolling. BTW, the jury in this case ultimately found that the vehicle WAS DEFECTIVE, but that the driver's conduct was the cause of the crash

Posted by

on
Im am sorry for your loss man and I dont know the pain of losing my daughter. But ambulance chasing lawyer's and people that hop up to sue companies with obviously shoddy case's that play on jurors emotions is what makes all our insurance rates soar. Next they will sue the hospital for some other crap and bam up goes our health-care rates.

Posted by

on
About 6 weeks ago I was out four wheeling with some of my buddies. I was on my rhino, and I decided to cut a donut. Well the ground I picked was not quite soft enough to do a donut and I flipped. I was fine and had nothing but a broken arm. I may have had to go four weeks in a cast, but I believe that my accident had nothing to do with Yamaha, that it was my own stupidity. I was out with my friends mudding and I pulled a stupid and flipped. That's my own fault. I guess what I'm trying to say here was that it was the drivers fault. I really understand how you could want to pin it on the manufacturer after such a great loss, but the fact is it's just not yamahas fault. I think when I flipped I was going about 10 mph, and I knew that stuff can flip, that's just part of four wheeling. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Posted by

on
Sorry for your loss. This is an operator error and not the fault of the machine. The manufacturer has multiple warnings regarding the operation of the machine including the use of helmets by occupants. I have a rhino and wear the seat belt shoulder harness with a helmet and know the limitations of the machine. I am also a former product liability investigator for a different manufacturer of ATV/UTV and this is a repeated tragedy unfortunately due to the negligence of parents and the operator in this case. You are attempting to shift blame from yourself and you simply need to deal with it.

Posted by

on
I understand your pain and suffering that comes with a loss, especially your own child. But I don't think Yamaha is at fault here. Was she wearing a seatbelt? The article says she was but she probably wouldn't have fallen out if it truly was on. How about a helmet? She might still be living if she was. These are usually very stable vehicles. You can roll at 12mph, it's actually very easy, especially on a plowed field. There is more traction so the tires catch on the ground instead of sliding. This was negligence on yours and the drivers' part, not Yamaha's. You know when people make sharp changes in direction? It's when they're trying to drift. Which doesn't work on a plowed field. Sorry for your loss, but don't blame anyone except yourself and the driver.

Posted by

on
It is hard to lose a child i could not understand your pain but finding blame in something or someone is a step of coping with the pain that will never be reached untill you reach full acceptance that all things happen for the good of those who love christ and this should draw u closer to him and not farther from anyone who may have fault. There is no lawsuit here well this day and age there probably is but there shouldnt be. I hope u find what your looking for but i can tell u no amount of money or changes on any manufactoring of utvs will fill the void u have in your heart maybe even find a way of coping not by lawsuit but in public education of proper safety equiptment while operating a quad. And alittle about me iv been on dirt bikes all my life have also been on racing quads @90+ mph (yamaha banshee 350 bored, ported polished, piped and silenced and all the rest) i am a speed junky 99% of my accidents were my own fault lucky for me my family always made me wear safty equiptment i hope this helps in some way or fashion the only real answer and the whole point of this post is the only way to ease ur pain is Christ your child was 10 christ has spoken on his love for children so come to know Jesus in ur heart and he promises that u WiLL SEE HER AGAIN and that is full acceptance and something in your heart to smile about.

Posted by

on
This is truly sad, both the loss of a young child and the fact suing is the first thing that comes to mind in the face of a tragic event. I've been riding ATV's since the age of four, and now at 38 I'm still as eager to hit the trails as ever. I've rolled many times, smashed three motorcycles, been involved with two major vehicle collisions...ALL of which were human error. I've owned a Rhino since 2011, and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt this machine didn't roll because of manufacturer error. UTV's are stable machines under normal conditions, but if driven aggressively, like anything with wheels, it can be rolled over. My kids wear helmets and seat belts 100% of the time while out on the trails, I know this because I'm with them whenever they go. I'm completely appalled at the attack on Yamaha over this, it's painfully obvious who's at fault here..

Posted by

on
I am personally amazed at the logic and thought that went into the previous comments. As an attorney, you might expect that I would find fault with the company manufacturing the device but I do not. As in most catastrophes, fault usually comes down to operator/human error. When confronted with tragedy, we want to have an explanation to help us understand what is impossible to understand. Grief demands it. Deep down, these parents are "killing" themselves with feelings of guilt which may very well consume their lives. The property owner feels the same way. Can you imagine how that 22 year old feels? Wouldn't it be wonderful for all of them if in fact a faceless, soulless giant like Yamaha could be made blameworthy? Not only would they all feel somewhat better about themselves, but there is the possibility of financial reward or at least compensation as well. The parents will probably claim that they don't want or need the money, and just want Yamaha to make the Rhino safer or stop making it altogether, so that "no other family has to go through this". The court system both encourages and rewards this type of thing, so it will never stop. Just be vigilant and respond when you get a jury summons. That's where the buck stops.

Posted by

on
My condolences to anyone who has lost a child and to loose a child because of someones negligence and/or incompetents is even a more horrific ordeal for any parent to go through and I feel for anyone that has. It may be argued that the Yamaha Rhino is slightly narrower then some side by side atv's and therefore may upset easier than others BUT is there really a judge out there that could justify drawing the line there and ruling that Yamaha is negligent or at fault for this. If so there are many other atv's out there that by the same token will, IN FACT, roll over easier than the Yamaha Rhino. If we are to set precedence using this logic (or lack of logic ) then it should be determined which vehicle is the most difficult to upset and all other vehicles be illegal to drive, own or manufacture. This would have to include all vehicles, on and off road. We would be left with one make and model of car to choose from in North America. It would be the one with five point harness seat belts, 27 airbags and completely covered in bubble rap to compensate for our incompetence and lack of common sense. Of course this would be ridicules, almost as ridicules as finding Yamaha at fault because somebody upset one of there vehicles. Again, it's a terrible thing to loose somebody in an accident but it seems it's human nature to try and fix the blame instead of the problem or the American way, to sue the one with the deepest pockets. EVERY MACHINE OUT THERE INCLUDING VEHICLES OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS HAVE LIMITATIONS and are type specific. The desirable attributes of machine in one situation may make it less desirable in another situation. As for the YAMAHA RHINO, there are thousands of people driving them thousands of miles every day with no problems, myself included. I use it almost everyday for work and pleasure in very extreme terrain, hills, bush and swamp. Never have been close to upsetting it and like most people that own one wouldn't trade it for anything in it's class. That's my opinion, but in court opinions don't and shouldn't count. The facts are, I have used and operated all the major makes of atv's and found the Yamaha Rhino to have the best and safest attributes for the situations I put it in. For anyone to say it is unsafe or more dangerous than another make or model would be an unsubstantiated opinion and not fact. Could I upset it? of course it could happen no different than my Chevy pickup if the limitations of the vehicle are exceeded or, more probable the limitations of the operator are exceeded. But to take the manufacturer to court and some how hold them responsible for our own incompetence and/or carelessness, Yamaha or Chevy, is just wrong in every way. We are not talking about, brake failure or exploding fuel tanks or any mechanical error that a company is trying to cover up. We are talking about inexperienced and possibly careless operators. Whats next folks, maybe some more trials in Salem Massachusetts would make us feel better if we could burn some witches, or somebody. The truth is, whether we want to admit to it or not, almost all accidents and death related accidents are the direct result of someones carelessness and instead of putting more resources into fixing this problem we blame the manufacturers for not being able to engineer all the STUPIDNESS out of there product. Worse yet, in my opinion, are the advertisements convincing people that if they buy there product they can be as careless and incompetent as they want because with the 27 airbags and a chassis built stronger than the black box in an aircraft you can survive almost any accident. False sense of security. Yes airbags and seat belts save lives but not as many as common sense and a bit of caution and more designing and engineering safety features will not change that. If the drivers seat belt were removed and a large spike were installed protruding out of the steering column, I bet there would be a lot less accidents. Ok maybe that's a bit extreme and everybody out there will just call me a dumb SOB, but if I would have said to install that same spike on the passengers side you would call me, just down right evil. MY POINT IS, IF YOU WANT TO SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU HAVE TO SOMEHOW MAKE PEOPLE AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THERE ACTIONS, not give them a faults sense of security with more bubble rap and ambulance chasing lawyers.

Posted by

on
I'M 63 AND RHINO OWNER.IT IS MY CHOICE TO WEAR A HELMUT OR NOT.WHEN MY GRAND CHILDREN RIDE WITH ME WHO ARE 16,13,&10 THEY HAVE TOWEAR A HELMUT.AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED YOU & THE OWNER WERE NEGIGENT IN THE ACCIDENT.I'M TERRIBLY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS BUT IT'S NOT YAMAHAS FAULT.

Posted by

on
I now see why these Governers are trying to ruin off-roading to UTV owners. Ignorant owners. These 2 comments are spot on. I'm sorry for your loss, but if you want to blame anyone, blame the person driving or the owner of the Rhino. Cars roll, trucks roll, quads, wagons, strollers hell anything with wheels can roll. If a driver makes a mistake anything can roll. The owner should be at blame because he didn't take all safety precautions to protect your child. Also the owner wasn't driving. A 22 year old was driving. Right there throws a red flag. I have a Rhino and yes I am fully aware that in could potentially flip. But so could my f250. Leave Yamaha alone and go after the real person that killed your child. The 22 year old. Question. If your daughter was riding in a car and the car flips are you suing the manufacture?

Posted by

on
This is ridiculous. There is no amount of money that will change the way you feel about the loss of your daughter, but wake up ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. They happen to people everyday that don't deserve to lose a family member or friend, but that's life. The money that you are expending should be spent on a campaign to raise awareness on the use of helmets on all atv's and the importance of driver training. I work in emergency medicine and see the results of both accidents and negligence. Yamaha is no way in fault. You did not ensure that your daughter was using safety devices, plain and simple. I have ridden atv's of all types my whole life and have been lucky enough to not have a traumatic accident, but I have many friends that have some with helmets some without. The only factor that was the same was that accidents happen. Bubble wrap your house and stay inside, and you still can't avoid an accident. Had your daughter been struck by lightening would you be suing the family of Ben Frankling for discovering electricity? Your suit is equally as absurd.

Posted by

on
You are a terrible person attempting to sue an innocent company for your own negligence. Was she wearing a helmet? Some observers say she was wearing a seat belt, well, was she? You should be the one being sued for allowing your daughter to ride in one without a helmet, an experienced driver, or checking to see that she was seat belted in.

You are the reason this accident happened.

You are what is wrong with this country.

You are not due any compensation.

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