LEWES — A 16-year-old girl died and four other teens were injured when an all-terrain vehicle overturned and crashed into a tree Tuesday, Delaware State Police spokeswoman Master Cpl. Heather Pepper said.
Authorities said the incident occurred at approximately 6:47 p.m., when an operator lost control of a northbound John Deere Gator ATV while on a private asphalt driveway, off Robinsonville Road. The ATV was traveling at a high rate of speed on a left curve, when it began skidding and left the east edge of the driveway, Cpl. Pepper said.
The ATV began to overturn as it left the driveway and came to a rest on its roof after striking a tree, police said. All occupants were ejected from the ATV as it overturned.
The 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Identification was pending notification of next of kin.
Two girls — ages 15 and 16 — were transported to an area hospital via helicopter with serious injuries, Cpl. Pepper said in a news release Wednesday morning. Police upgraded their conditions to stable later Wednesday.
The two other girls involved — ages 16 and 17 — suffered minor injuries and were transported to an area hospital by ambulance. They were treated and released, police said in an update.
Several Cape Henlopen High students were involved in the crash, principal Nikki Miller said in a message to the school community Wednesday. It read in part: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that this message has to be sent. (Tuesday), a sudden tragedy occurred within our community that involved several of our high school students.
“The Cape Henlopen School District, our staff and students are deeply saddened over the loss of one of these students. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family members and friends of all of those involved.
“A sudden death can be a very upsetting experience. Please monitor your child and support them, as this can be a difficult time, even if they were not close to our beloved student.”
Ms. Miller said that students will have access to school counselors for support upon return to school from spring break next week.
In the interim, the principal urged children and adults in need of immediate support to call or text (800) 969-HELP or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “DE” to 741741. The 24/7 support lines can also be found on the school’s website and Schoology page, she said.
Additionally, the school said that the DSP Victim Services Section is available to offer support and resources 24 hours a day via (800) VICTIM-1 (800-842-8461).
DSP described the vehicle involved as “a side-by-side ATV, equipped with two passenger seats with seat belts and a rear utility bed.”
Police said the seating positions of the occupants in the ATV was not immediately known. The investigation was ongoing, according to Cpl. Pepper.
All those involved in the crash were Delaware residents, police said.
Additionally, while social media reports circulated that the crash involved a deer, DSP clarified Wednesday that wasn’t the case.
The DSP Troop 7 Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to contact Cpl./1 Andrew Mitchell at 644-5020. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333 or by visiting here.