The off-road vehicle a Paso Robles child was driving when she was killed Thanksgiving Day is the subject of lawsuits nationwide.
Here are the Facts First:
* 12-year-old Ashlyn Vargas was crushed when the Yamaha Rhino she was on rolled-over and landed on top of her near California Valley.
* She was not wearing a seatbelt.
* At least four other children have been killed on Rhinos and dozens have been seriously injured.
Hundreds of off-road enthusiasts have turned to utility vehicles known as Rhinos for hours of fun but are they taking their lives into their own hands?
“They have a high center of gravity and they are top heavy and they do have a well demonstrated propensity for rolling over,” said Attorney Fred Pritzker.
Ashlyn Vargas’s father says the Rhino she was driving should not have rolled over.
“The slow speed my daughter was going when this happened and I saw the tire tracks, it tipped really easy,” said Primo Vargas.
Lawsuits filed against Yamaha, the maker of the Rhino, allege it has design defects making it dangerously unstable, including small tires and a narrow frame.
Some believe the Rhino marketing is misleading.
“It’s kind of an idea to induce people and create an image about one thing and bait and switch and say on the other hand you really can’t drive them like that,” said Pritzker.
Ashlyn’s dad hopes parents take heed of the possible dangers.
“Don’t make the mistake I did, find out what’s going on before you put your kid in any kind of vehicle like this. You could cost them their life and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody,” said Vargas.
Calls to Yamaha were not returned.
The following statement is from Yamaha’s website:
“While the Rhino has been a reliable and versatile vehicle, some operators have engaged in aggressive driving or made abrupt maneuvers”… “that have resulted in side rollovers, even on flat, open areas.”