Teen visiting family in Newberry Co. killed in ATV accident - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Teen visiting family in Newberry Co. killed in ATV accident

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We're learning more about a Rhode Island teen who died after an ATV accident in Newberry County.

Coroner Craig Newton said 13-year-old Brandon Michael Austin died instantly when the ATV he was driving lost control and tumbled into a ditch.

Along Old Jollystreet Road in Newberry County, there's still a lot of sadness and a lot of shock.

"I really do feel for their parents," said Linda Johnston.

Troopers said the teen was killed in an ATV accident Wednesday on a nearby private, gravel road.

Neighbor Linda Johnston can sympathize.

"I lost a son, and even though my son was 42-year-old and had lived a good bit, this child had his whole life ahead of him," Johnston said.

Newton said it's a tragic loss.

"The family's, of course, devastated as they well should be," Newton said. "It's a shock to the family to the community as a whole."

Newton said the teen was down from Rhode Island, visiting his grandfather and 12-year-old cousin.

"They had picked him up from the Charlotte Airport, brought him back to Newberry, and he had only been in the area for the afternoon and evening when the accident happened," Newton said.

Newton said the two teens were able to find the keys for the ATV and took off for a ride.

"From what we're told or what I'm told is the driver decided to try a maneuver called drifting, which is what we used to call fishtailing, and that is to bring the read-end of the vehicle and make it slide," Newton said.

The coroner said they lost control.

Newton said even though the 12-year-old passenger wasn't injured, the teen driver from Rhode Island died instantly as the vehicle flipped down an embankment.

He said neither was wearing a seat-belt or helmet.

"Utilizing safety devices certainly could have made a difference, and they should always be used, especially when juveniles are operating vehicles such as this," Newton said.

Johnston said even though her grandchildren ride ATV's, it still can be scary for her.

"My grandchildren has rode 4-wheelers before at that age," Johnston said. "It scares me to death, but it's been on flat land, you know, nothing that they could go off of."

A couple of years ago, Chandler's Law was passed in South Carolina and with it stricter ATV rules for young people.

By law, ATV riders under 15 are required to take a training class and wear a helmet.

If you're under the age of 16, and don't have a driver's license, you can't have a passenger with you either.

Law enforcement can make charges under the law, even on private property.

As for the Newberry County case, the coroner and Highway Patrol are both still investigating.

Chandler's Law went into effect in the summer of 2011.

The law is named after Chandler Saylor, a Swansea teen who died in an ATV accident in 2003.

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