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August 2013 Archives

Nice Portland Press Herald Article By Scott Dolan on the Danger of ATVs and Kids



The Press Herald


In Maine, kids' safety on ATVs a rising concern

A string of recent crashes in Maine, including one that killed a 4-year-old boy, have put the focus on a growing, popular pastime.

By Scott Dolan
Staff Writer

Jessica Wheeler, whose 8-year-old daughter was injured while riding an all-terrain vehicle in Lincoln last week, said she and her daughter were at a friend's home when a 12-year-old neighbor came by to visit on her family's ATV.


Twelve-year-old Alyssa Lajoie leads the way during a ATV trail ride with her Dad, Jim Lajoie, and his passenger, brother Ian, age 8, near their Dayton home on Monday, August 26, 2013. Alyssa took the training class at age 10 with her mother and was certified to ride on public trails.

Jim Lajoie of Dayton points something out down the trail during a break while riding ATVs with his daughter Alyssa, 12, and son Ian, 8, on a trail near their home on Monday, August 26, 2013. Jim said that one of the benefits of ATV trail riding are the things you see along the way.

Wheeler's daughter rode the ATV first with an older cousin, then rode with the 12-year-old neighbor. The girls went off a trail and into some trees. The 8-year-old's injury was a scraped neck from her helmet strap.

Wheeler was charged with failure to report the crash. Her friend, Jessica Tenney, was charged with allowing a minor to operate an ATV.

"It's not like they were completely unsupervised," Wheeler said. "I wasn't aware of ATV laws at all. ... Had I known the law, my daughter wouldn't have been on it."

That and other recent crashes involving ATVs, including an accident in East Machias on Saturday that killed a 4-year-old boy, raise questions about ATV safety for children and the liability of parents, at a time when the state is years behind on compiling ATV crash information.

The Maine Warden Service said it does not know how many ATV crashes the state had in 2011, 2012 or so far in 2013.

With about 62,000 ATVs registered in Maine and many more that don't have to be registered because they are used only on private property, ATVs are common in most of the state.

Maine has 148 state-recognized ATV clubs, about 7,000 miles of ATV trails and about 2,800 landowners involved in the state's trail system.

"It's just a cultural thing, really," said Cpl. John MacDonald of the Warden Service. "Many people involved with ATVs start their children very young."

Henry Carey, president of the Penobscot Off-Road Riders ATV Club in Lincoln, said he has seen children riding all-terrain vehicles this year in ways "that I just shake my head (at)," riding adult-sized machines that are "way too big for them" or riding without adult supervision.

"We promote the safe riding of ATVs. The ultimate person responsible for a minor is the parent or guardian," said Carey, whose club of about 175 members offers two ATV safety classes per year.

Under Maine law, it is illegal for anyone younger than 10 to operate an ATV off private property. Children ages 10 to 16 must attend, along with a parent or guardian, one of the many safety training programs run statewide by the warden service in conjunction with ATV clubs.

"Many times, parents are held accountable for crashes their underage children become involved in," MacDonald said. "But I would say the majority of parents are cautious and monitor their kids when they are using ATVs."

Wheeler said she doesn't mind paying the fine, since she feels she has learned her lesson without major consequence.

"My daughter wasn't seriously hurt, thank God," Wheeler said. "I'm a very good mother who just made a bad call."

The number of ATV crashes and injuries annually in Maine has declined in recent years, from a high of about 350 crashes in 2004 to a low of about 150 in 2008, MacDonald said.

The Warden Service reported 269 ATV crashes and four deaths in 2009. It reported 266 crashes and seven deaths in 2010, the most recent year for which it has data available.
The agency has no available data for the years after 2010, though MacDonald said the numbers have been steady.

The records do not break down crash data by the operators' age.

Nationally, data about ATV-related deaths is still being collected for years as far back as 2007. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released its annual report on ATV safety for 2011 in February of this year with a footnote that data collection for years after 2007 continues.
The 2011 national report lists 327 ATV-related deaths. In 2007, the number was 890. The report says those figures should not be used for year-over-year comparisons because the post-2007 numbers are expected to increase as death reports continue to be compiled.

MacDonald said game wardens decide on a case-by-case basis whether to charge parents with violations when children are involved in ATV accidents.

"You have to use your discretion. Ultimately, the parents are responsible for their kids' actions, but if a kid goes outside their usual behavior you have to take that into account," he said. "Sometimes you may just have to hold the kid accountable."
On Saturday, a 4-year-old boy in East Machias was killed when a two-seat ATV rolled over on him.
The warden service said Roy Denison, 37, was riding a 2007 Yamaha Rhino 660 utility ATV with his son around his home and was joined by an 8-year-old nephew.

The nephew accidentally stepped on the accelerator and the ATV rolled over an embankment, then rolled over Wesley Keeton, 4, the 8-year-old's brother. Wesley was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident remains under investigation. As of Monday, no one had been charged.
East Machias, in Down East Maine, is about 25 miles from the Canadian border. Lincoln is 50 miles north of Bangor.

ATV safety is also a topic of concern in the southern part of the state.

Bob Worden, president of the Saco ATV'ers Club, said that in his 45 years of off-roading, starting with dirt bikes, he has seen more young, inexperienced riders get overconfident in recent years.

"I'm totally for kids learning to ride at a young age. It's a good, healthy sport," Worden said. "But it's got to be done safely."

Worden said no one should ride without a helmet and no one younger than 16 should ride alone.

"The biggest problem these days is that the kids don't respect the trails the way we did. The trails can hurt you," Worden said. "They don't have the experience to brake when you need to and to throttle up when you have to."

At least one ATV dealer, Tidd's Sports Shop in the Aroostook County town of Hodgdon, has seen a sharp decline in traditional ATVs in recent years.

Rick Tidd said the shop sold fewer than 30 ATVs this year, compared with more than 100 larger utility ATVs, often called UTVs, with two or more seats side by side.

"Four-wheelers have really slowed down a bunch in the past couple years," Tidd said, referring to single-seat ATVs.

Tidd said he has seen an even sharper decline in sales of small-engine ATVs, traditionally targeting children.

Just as ATV sales once eclipsed sales of dirt bikes and snowmobiles, UTVs sales are now outpacing all the rest. 

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or atsdolan@pressherald.com 
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.

More Client Congratulations for Attorney John Burke!

Received from one of Attorney John Burke's Clients this morning:

"Dear John, As my instinct predicted, your are smart, and brilliant!  Thank you for your time and talents!  Well done!" 

For more on Attorney John Burke or Zerillo Law, click here.

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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.

 
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.
 

News Story on Plea Deal In Massage Therapist Sex Case

Massage therapist avoids jail, registry with plea deal       
 
A [location removed] massage therapist pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual touching in connection with three separate incidents involving female clients.
 
[Name removed], of Topsham, was arrested Sept. 18, 2012, and charged with gross sexual assault stemming from a complaint — lodged with [Police Department Removed] police Sept. 8 — that he inappropriately touched a woman at a fitness center where he worked as a fitness trainer and licensed massage therapist.
 
Upon his arrest, [name removed] was charged with gross sexual assault. He posted $1,000 unsecured bail and was released.
 
He then was indicted on one count of felony unlawful sexual contact and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual touching. The felony count was dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea to the two misdemeanors. The charges were linked to three incidents, on Feb. 4, July 2 and Sept. 1, 2012.
 
[Name removed] — who is no longer working as a massage therapist — was sentenced to two years in prison, all suspended; and two years of probation.
 
“The disposition allows him no felony record, no sex offender registry, and no jail time,” said Tim Zerillo, a criminal defense attorney. “He was ready, willing and able to try these cases. But jury trials are uncertain. He’s a businessman and this was a way to mitigate his risk.
 
“Ultimately, he feels he did the best thing for him and his family,” Zerillo said. “Overall he’s pleased with the result.”
 
Each of [name removed]’s victims spoke at sentencing and described what they felt was the impact on them, Zerillo said.
 
“Despite some of the victims — at least one of the victims at least initially seemed to indicate it was too lenient a deal — ultimately she decided it was going to be all right, even though she expressed that she was upset by it,” Zerillo said.
 
Police received a complaint Sept. 8 about an incident that had occurred a week prior at a Topsham fitness center where he worked.
 
One of the victims was a 47-year-old Freeport woman who reported an incident of inappropriate touching that occurred as [name removed] was performing a massage on her, police said.
 
According to the Maine Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation records for massage therapy licensure, [name removed] had no disciplinary actions on record at the time of his arrest.
 
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here.
 
For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, click here.

Great Video Showing Police Intimidation at Drunk Driving Stop

Very interesting and scary video of a police officer intimidating a young man, who secretly records these  police tactics.  This man's recitations of the law are not 100% accurate, but most of what he says is correct.  And the video certainly shows how bad police officers will use intimidation and trickery to try to search you and your property.http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/11/dui-viral-video-sheriff-speaks/2509881/Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here

Another AVVO 5 Star Review for Tim Zerillo

What a great week for reviews on AVVO!This is a review of me from a client yesterday - a great review and very kind.

Professional, experienced, winner

Posted by a Criminal Defense client, about 23 hours ago.                 
Overall rating
 Excellent
Trustworthy
 Excellent
Responsive
 Excellent
Knowledgeable
 Excellent
Kept me informed
 Excellent
  • I recommend Timothy Zerillo.
  • I hired Timothy 6-12 months ago.
  • Timothy handled my Criminal Defense matter.
Tim is the consummate professional. What elevates his status is his intelligence, experience, wit, charm and caring nature. He really makes you feel 100% comfortable leaving the driving to him. From the first day meeting Tim I knew the right decision was made. In troubled times there is no greater feeling than having some level of security and comfort. With Tim Zerillo......you have that and more.
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here

A Thank You Email From A Client Accused of a Variety of Criminal Charges

I don't want to give away the case, so will only note that this came in along with a card recently from a client accused of a number of criminal charges.  I am very pleased to get a note like this, because helping people through some of the worst times in their lives is what we do!

Hi Tim, I again wanted to thank you so very much for everything that you were able to do.  I am saddened all this happened, but very happy to have it over with and extremely grateful for everything that I have...You can best believe that should I come in contact with anyone needing an attorney you will be highly recommended. 

Thank you again Tim……you’re truly the best!!!  (Name Withheld)

Spousal Support Termination in Error

Less than eighteen months after the district court entered a judgment granting Husband and Wife a divorce, Husband moved to terminate spousal support payments. Wife did not file a response or opposition to the motion but did appear with counsel at a hearing on the motion. The district court granted Husband's motion for the entry of a default judgment against Wife on the ground that Wife failed to file an objection to Husband's motion as required by Me. R. Civ. P. 7(c). The default judgment terminated spousal support. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that the court erred as a matter of law in applying Rule 7 and not Me. R. Civ. P. 105 and in failing to allow Wife to be heard on the substance of Husband's motion. Remanded.
Bertin v. Bertin, 2013.Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here. Timothy E. Zerillo has a 10 out of 10 rating from AVVO.com, for his ratings page, click here