EL CENTRO, Calif. - Imperial Valley REACH Air Medical Services officials said they were busy this past Thanksgiving holiday.
Donnie Wharton, REACH official, said, “This past weekend was actually one of the busier thanksgiving weekends that we’ve experienced in recent history. We transported close to 25 patients out of the area. The vast majority of those patients went to area trauma centers.”
Imperial County Sheriff’s Office reported a teenager riding an ATV and colliding with a sand rail, suffered a traumatic injury on Friday afternoon at the sand drags near Winterhaven.
“We responded to one of many trauma incidents out in the sand dunes our recreational areas. Unfortunately are quite common,” Wharton said.
The patient was flown to a Riverside County hospital.
“We had a patient that was involved in a traumatic injury. Usually involves some type of head, neck type of injury and those type of patients need to get to a trauma center as fast as possible,” Wharton said.
Wharton warns that the sand dunes have unique challenges.
“Many times it has a lot to do with the fact that they may not see another off-road vehicle on the other side of a hill or other side of a dune,” Wharton said.
It can be dangerous especially for new visitors.
“Relatively new recreators that are still learning how to operate in the area, how to operate their off-road vehicle. So, it’s very easy to get over your head,” Wharton said.
He advises them to take precautions, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“Wear the safety equipment. Stay within your means, your skills set - your skill level - and really resist the temptation to go out there and do something that could risk serious injury,” Wharton said.
New information from NBC San Diego states that the victim was taken to Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital where he has been treated since the crash. The report said that doctors told the teenager he won’t be able to walk for two months. The victim’s sister said she believes a woman drunk driver caused the crash, and after that she took off. The sister is trying to find the driver through social media.