Juvenile fractures skull in ATV crash

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Valley Central: An 11-year-old girl suffered a skull fracture after flipping her ATV in Thatcher on Saturday.

Graham County Supervisor frees girl from underneath wrecked quad/girl flown to UMC in Tucson

By Jon Johnson


THATCHER  – An 11-year-old girl was flown to Banner-University Medical Center Tucson on Sunday after being injured in an ATV crash. She was not wearing a helmet. 

According to a Thatcher Police report, the juvenile was riding a newly purchased Polaris ATV down to the Gila River with her sister when the crash occurred. Authorities were dispatched to the 1700 North block of First Avenue at about 5:18 p.m. and located the injured juvenile being attended to by a local doctor who lives down the street from the scene. The officer advised that a large bump could be seen on the victim’s right temple. 

Paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance then arrived and transported the victim to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. She was then flown to UMC, however, because Mt. Graham’s computed tomography machine (also known as a CT or CAT scan) was not functioning.

The victim’s sister told an officer that they were south on First Avenue and went off the east side of the road into a ditch when the victim, who was operating the ATV, turned to look at her.

As they went into the ditch, the sister was thrown from the ATV onto the dirt bank and the ATV flipped and pinned the victim underneath.

The sister then ran to the nearest house across the street, which happened to be occupied by Graham County Supervisor Jim Palmer, who, along with his son-in-law, daughter, and grandchildren, followed the girl back to her injured sister, who was screaming for help.

Palmer told authorities that the girl’s right leg was pinned under the handlebars and when they managed to get the ATV off of her she crawled out of the ditch on her own. 

“We were glad that we were home because there was gas dripping out of that thing,” Palmer told Gila Valley Central. “It could have gone really bad fast.”

As they helped the victim, Palmer’s granddaughter retrieved the doctor who lived nearby, who then triaged the victim and attempted to calm her down until being relieved by paramedics, and his grandson called 911.

The victim’s parents were informed of what occurred, and her father later removed the ATV from the ditch and brought it back to his residence.

On Monday, an officer received an update from the victim’s mother, who said they were still at UMC at that time and were waiting to be instructed by trauma doctors about how to care for her daughter’s skull fracture and trauma to her lung. The victim reportedly returned home Wednesday.

“She’s going to have quite a recovery,” Palmer said.