Yamaha Rhino ATV Accident Claims Two More Lives

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted October 23, 2008


There was yet another fatal Yamaha Rhino ATV accident over the weekend, this time resulting in the deaths of two 11 year-old girls. While many people continue to believe that most of these Rhino accidents are the fault of the operator (or in this case the parents), it is not that simple.

This latest accident occurred on Saturday, October 18, 2008, in DeSoto County, Mississippi, which is near Memphis, Tennessee. The two young girls were riding a 2005 Yamaha Rhino on a flat, paved road when it rolled over, pinning them under the weight of the vehicle. They both suffered fatal injuries in the accident.

Although there were no witnesses to the accident and the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash is unknown, the initial report published in the DeSoto Times-Tribune, which is the local paper for the county, suggested that the accident was caused by the two young girls operating the vehicle on the pavement, as opposed to off-road. The report also highlighted the fact that the girls were not wearing any protective gear or seatbelts.

Along with the article that appeared on the paper’s website, www.desototimes-tribune.com, were a series of comments from readers. One of the first comments published after the article appeared was from a reader named “mandie” who indicated that the children should not have been unattended and stated that “the parents are responsible for this accident and the two girls should have never been allowed to ride it anywhere near the street.”

While the parents likely regret many of the things that happened on the day of this accident, it is not a fair statement to lay blame on the parents and neither the original article nor the first comments tell the whole story about this ATV accident.

The Yamaha Rhino ATV is an inherently unstable vehicle, which has been found to rollover even at low speeds when it is operated on flat surfaces. Although Yamaha has been aware of these problems for years, they have not provided adequate warnings to owners and have not issued a Yamaha Rhino recall to address the problems. In fact, they continue to sell thousands of these dangerous vehicles every year without substantial design changes.

There is another comment on the original article which follows the comments of “mandie”, which really helps shed some more light on this story. Bob Berends wrote:

My heart goes out to the parents, families and friends of these two young girls. Only God knows what happened and why the Yamaha Rhino rolled.

I, too, lost my daughter when the Rhino she drove rolled and crushed-killed her. She was driving slowly on flat, firm ground when the Rhino rolled while she was making a turn. My daughter was wearing seatbelts but was still partially ejected.

Within the three days prior to my daughter’s death, two other young girls died in separate Rhino accidents involving rollovers.

We later learned (a) many other kids and adults have been killed or injured in Rhino rollovers, and (b) the Rhino has a tendency to roll due to its high center of gravity, narrow width/wheelbase, ill-placed rollbars and big tires. In addition, many people have lost or injured their arms and legs as the early Rhinos did not have any doors and after several deaths, Yamaha offered a half-door that still did not completely restrain riders.

As it turns out over 300 lawsuits have been filed against Yamaha due to the defective design of the Rhino.

I wish Yamaha designed their vehicles to be safer. Perhaps my daughter and these two young girls would still be alive.

A follow up story was published today by the DeSoto Times-Tribune, which does a better job of providing information about the underlying Yamaha Rhino rollover problems. They highlight the instability of the vehicle and the fact that at least 13 children and 4 adults have been killed in Yamaha Rhino ATV accidents since 2006. In addition, hundreds of other individuals have suffered severe and debilitating injuries.

The initial reaction of the DeSoto Times-Tribune and the commenter “mandie” is the common thought that enters peoples heads when they hear about these Rhino accidents. While all-terrain vehicles are inherently dangerous and require special care during operation, the manufacturers have an obligation to make the vehicles as safe as possible. They also have an obligation to provide warnings about risks that would not be apparent to normal users (or parents).

Yamaha has failed to do so, and until they make substantial changes to the Rhino ATV, we will continue to come across these devastating stories.


The Yamaha Rhino accident attorneys at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. investigate potential claims for severe injuries caused by Yamaha Rhino ATV accidents throughout the United States. If you, a friend or family member have suffered personal injury due to the negligently designed Yamaha side-by-side ATV, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

6 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Terry says:

    What the hell were two 11 year old girls doing on a Rhino by themselves. Why not put two kids in a car that will travel up to 50mph and see what happens.

    Where were the parents? Do honestly think this is due to the error of the UTV? Did they have seat belts on? If not, why not? Don’t you think if they were wearing seat belts this might not have happened?

    This is just as stupid as suing the gun manufacture because someone got shot. Well last time I checked, I never seen a gun jump up, point it’s self at someone, then pull the trigger.

    Also, this is like the parents that bitch about the things that are on TV, well don’t buy a damn TV!

    I think the total fault here is with the parents for putting two young girls on a machine with so much power, not the manufacturer.

    Posted on October 29, 2008 at 9:35 am

  • becca warner and haley mckee says:

    i dont think its right to blame this on the parents of those two girls. emily ann bates was mine and my sisters friend.she was very close to my sister.there is no need in the world to acusse this accident on the fault of their parents for not watching them.this accendent coould have happend to anyone. and if it was your kids you wouldnt want people blamming the incedent on you. anything could have happend.and honestly this is coming from a four-teen year old and thirteen year old. and we do not appreciate ya’ll blamin it on the parents.ya’ll dont know the parents of these two beautiful young girls, and until you do dont assume or blame anything upon them. thank you very much!!!

    Posted on November 22, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  • natalee says:

    i went to school w/emily and i wish she could have fulfilled her dreams the become a model, but i guess in her own way she was a model on myspace. “i wish to she you some day emily!!!!!!!”

    Posted on December 18, 2008 at 12:02 pm

  • Cathy says:

    well i put it like this, i have 2 boy’s myself and i do consider myself a very protective parent but for your information they have as well had accidents on BICYCLES and broke bones and as we all know bikes DO NOT HAVE SEAT BELTS….i had a cousin killed on a bike, and by no means was it any type of neglegence on his parents. i believe by NO MEANS you are the perfect parent, if so then you should write a book to let all of us dumb a** parents how we are suppose to be that perfect parent. i think you are pathetic for writing such junk, after 2 sets of parents just lost there 2 babies. before you judge someone else and what YOU MIGHT THINK IS THERE IGNORANCE you may need to look at your own self and see what mistakes you have made in your life….i believe if the 2 girls parents would have woke up that morning and knew what was going to happen things would have been different. but as i said I HAVE NEVER NOT EVER SEEN A PERFECT PARENT. only judge when you know what you are talking about. you sound like a very angry person to write such a thing about parents that have lost children that is as low down as you possibly can get. hopefully you will never make mistakes like all of us other parents.

    Posted on April 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

  • Marty says:

    Was the vehicle equipped with seat belts? Were they used?
    Was either person involved wearing a helmet?
    Where were the parents?
    What training did the driver or passenger have?
    The Rhino is an Off Road vehicle! Why were they on pavement?
    I can’t say the Rhino has it for sure but I think it does. Isn’t there an age limit placard on the Rhino. I think there is and it states a driver/occupant should be over the girls ages at the time. Please feel to correct me if I’m wrong.

    Posted on August 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm

  • Joel says:

    Were seat belts used?
    Was a helmet used?
    What kind of training were the operator and passenger given?
    The sticker in the center of the dash board clearly states that the vehicle should not be operated on paved surfaces. It also states that a helmet must be used at all times during operation. Were these practices followed? What was the speed of the Rhino when the accident occurred? I have a Rhino-have operated it many different ways-and I have ridden hundreds of them as part of my job. They are a safe machine if they are used responsibly. And responsibly means don’t get crazy on it. If you bought your inexperienced kid a Corvette and it had 650 HP and goes over 200 mph, and say your child was hurt or someone else was hurt, is it the Corvette’s fault? No…when someone purcases an ATV or SXS FOR their child who is under the age of 16, they take the responsibility into their own hands. And unfortunately, inexperienced operators lack the skills to react to a situation. Another thing-if the operator of the unit is under the age of 16, that can & will be used against them in court as well-the sticker on the dash board (right in the middle) clearly states that operators of any Rhino should be 16 or older and have a valid vehicle operator’s license.

    It’s an unfortunate situation no doubt. But in all my experience of using the Rhino, it’s definitely not the entire fault of the Rhino. Did the rhino steer itself into the situation? Doubtful because the operator is in control of the Rhino at all times. Is it the fault of the parents? Not in my opinion. It is the fault of the operator as ONLY the operator has control of the Rhino-not Yamaha, not a parent standing there watching it, and not any of us sitting behind a computer screen saying well they shoulda done this or that.

    Posted on November 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

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