Yamaha Rhino Rollovers: Three Tragic Cases

By February 22, 2008Product Liability

The Yamaha Rhino is a prime example of the need for more regulation and safety measures when it comes to ATVs. Lives could have been saved if more controls were in place, particularly with the design of the Rhino. Complaints are pouring in, alleging that even at low speed and during turns on flat surfaces, rollovers occur due to a defect in the design—a high center of gravity makes the vehicle top-heavy.
In November, 2006 a 10-year-old girl was killed when a Yamaha Rhino tipped over on top of her. Police said three children were on the Rhino when it overturned as the driver, the girl’s 12-year-old cousin, tried to make a left turn while going down a hill. He tried to lift the vehicle off the girl, but it was too heavy.
Another near-tragic accident happened in Chino Hills, CA., involving four youths. Without permission from a parent, they took a spin in a Rhino and the vehicle swerved before one juvenile in the back seat jumped off. The driver then overcompensated, and the ATV pitched back the other way before it rolled over. Three of the youths were seriously injured.
And in Edmonton, Alberta, a 13-year-old boy, Wyatt Lyal Bauer, was killed while driving a Rhino, prompting a spinal cord surgeon to ask for a ban on people under the age of 16 driving ATVs and for the licensing of all ATV drivers. He had previously operated on a number of people whose backs were broken in ATV accidents. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of ATV-related trauma — not just deaths, but people getting buggered up,” said Dr. Lavoie of University Hospital.
Apparently Wyatt went around a corner on a hill, lost control of the Rhino and it rolled over on top of him. Friends found him about 20 to 30 minutes later; they lifted off the vehicle and tried to revive him. A helicopter airlifted him from the scene to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Dr. Lavoie wasn’t surprised to hear of Wyatt’s death because he knows first-hand the dangers of mixing ATVs and kids. His own two teen aged boys were involved in two separate ATV rollovers. Neither boy was badly hurt, but afterwards they didn’t want anything to do with driving an ATV again.
“We’ve had our scares with it,” Lavoie says. “My kids don’t want to ride that freakin’ thing now. They’re not interested.”
ATVs are now so large and powerful that it would take a big, strong child to handle a machine such as a 450- or 660-cc Yamaha Rhino. “When it gets over-balanced, unless you’re a big strong guy, you can’t pull that thing back up,” Lavoie says.