15-year-old killed in golf cart crash, 3 others injured - WKRN News 2

15-year-old killed in golf cart crash, 3 others injured

Posted: Updated: May 9, 2012 6:13 PM
Ryan Tropauer, 15, was killed in a golf cart crash Wednesday evening in Franklin. Ryan Tropauer, 15, was killed in a golf cart crash Wednesday evening in Franklin.

A 15-year-old boy was killed and three other teens injured in a golf cart crash Wednesday evening in Williamson County.

The accident happened just after 6 p.m. on Lake Valley Drive in the Legend's Ridge subdivision of Franklin.

The neighborhood is located on the corner of Hillsboro Road and South Berry's Chapel Road.

Police said the four teens were traveling down a hill in the golf cart when the vehicle's right tire blew, causing the driver to lose control.

The golf cart slammed into a brick encased mailbox before overturning and ejecting three of the teens.

The driver of the golf cart, 15-year-old Ryan Tropauer, was killed.

Two other 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old were taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with serious injuries.

Tropauer was a freshman at Franklin High School.

Ninth grade Vice Principal Shane Pantall called him an excellent student who loved music, skateboarding and playing the guitar.

"I can't emphasize enough how tremendous a kid he was," he said.

To allow students time to grieve following the news of Tropauer's death, the school canceled end of course exams on Thursday and Friday.

"His friends right now are hurting," Principal Willie Dickerson said, adding, "They were shocked and when we got all the freshman together, it was still like it wasn't sinking in."

Counselors were also on hand at the school.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Franklin police remind golf cart owners it is illegal to drive the vehicles on the public roadways.

On Thursday Nashville's News 2 spoke with Dr. Thomas Abramo, who is the Director of Emergency Services of Vanderbilt University Children's Hospital.

According to Dr. Abramo, the hospital see dozens of accidents every year involving injuries due to golf cart crashes.

"The problem with golf carts is we all think it's very safe and it doesn't tip over, but they're really not that safe, especially if you do a sharp turn, or you go down a steep hill in neutral and you think the brake's going to stop," said Dr. Abramo, "It's not meant to go above 10 to 15 miles-per-hour. If you go above it, the brakes aren't really good a stopping yourself."

He added, "Children have a lack of fear, they have this lack of danger. They think nothing is going to happen to them. This false sense of security is what causes a lot of injury and a lot of the problems."

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, traditional golf carts, like the one these teens were driving, are not meant to be driven on roadways.

In fact, it's illegal; the THP said anyone caught driving a golf cart where they shouldn't be would be issued a misdemeanor citation.

Because those golf carts are not meant to be on roads, there are no age restrictions for drivers and no requirements passengers wear seat belts or helmets.

Golf carts can be driven on some roadways if they are registered with the DMV as "low speed vehicles."

To qualify, federal guidelines require a significant amount of safety upgrades be made to the golf carts, including adding seat belts and extra lights.

Dr. Abramo told Nashville's News 2, he fully expects the rest of the year to include more children in the ER due to injuries from riding in a golf cart.

"I think the traumas are the tougher ones," he said, "Because those can be preventable if you're using common sense."

A prayer service is scheduled to be held for the other victims of the golf cart crash on Thursday night at Covenant Presbyterian Church located on 33 Burton Hills Boulevard beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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