By MELINDA WILLIAMS
WISE COUNTY – Virginia State Police are investigating a Wednesday ATV accident that killed a 9-year-old boy in Wise County.
Austin W. Bowman of Pound was found dead at the scene of the crash after he was reported missing by his mother, State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. She said the boy’s mother called Wise County Sheriff’s Office when he failed to return home after several hours.
The sheriff’s office asked State Police to assist in searching for the boy. Geller said a police tracking dog led police down the road from the boy’s residence on Wilderness Path Road.
Police found the boy’s body around 5 p.m. Wednesday in the 8300 block of Wilderness Path Road. The investigation determined Bowman, who was wearing a helmet, lost control of the ATV and overturned, coming to rest upside down.
The investigation is continuing.
According to ATVsafety.gov, 327 deaths were reported nationwide as a result of ATV accidents in 2011 (the most recent statistics available), with 17 percent, or 57, being children under the age of 16. Those figures still are lower than the 12 previous years when reported deaths ranged from a low of 397 in 1999 to a high of 833 in 2006. Earlier figures for youth range from a low of 82 in 2010 to a high of 182 in 2004.
In Virginia, 226 ATV-related deaths were reported between 1982 and 2011. Thirty-two youth under age 16 were reported to have died in ATV accidents between 1982 and 2007.