Boy's Myakka motorcycle race death ruled 'accident'

jbartolone@bradenton.comFebruary 11, 2014 

A 7-year-old Pompano Beach boy was killed Saturday in an accident during a motorcycle race at this Myakka City property. BAY NEWS 9

MYAKKA CITY -- A preliminary medical examiner's report shows injuries suffered by the 7-year-old Pompano Beach boy who died in a weekend motorcycle race are consistent with an accident, officials said Tuesday.

Evan Max was competing Saturday in the Buffalo Stampede Hare Scramble on a large farm at Clay Gully and Sugarbowl roads when he crashed into a motorcycle ridden by an adult volunteer. The boy apparently failed to see a 39-year-old man's motorcycle as he was crossing the race track next to a palmetto ledge while looking for another rider, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office report.

The boy was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Manatee County Medical Examiner report determined the cause of death was a fractured neck, said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

The ruling was consistent with the sheriff's office investigation, which is conducting an accidental death investigation, Bristow said.

"It's just a very, very tragic accident," Bristow said.

Representatives of the Florida Trail Riders Association, a statewide group that sanctioned the race, said members have been hit hard by the tragedy.

"It's just devastating to everyone," said Mike Belle, hare scramble committee chairman for the association.

Andy Dickson, chaplain for Florida Trail Riders, spent time with Evan's parents shortly after the accident.

"They're taking it very hard, like any parents would," Dickson said.

Belle said accidents happen during hare scramble races, which are held on closed-circuit, off-road courses through woods and fields, but organizers take safety precautions. Racers must wear protective gear, and all events include a safety crew of volunteers, including a rider safety coordinator who is a trained paramedic.

Several county emergency medical personnel were at the race and responded within minutes of the accident, Belle said.

"By and large, our families feel we have a very safe outlet for riding dirt bikes," Belle said. "It's a controlled atmosphere. It's probably safer than some other places where you could go racing dirt bikes on your own."

Evan was competing in the Peewee Division for riders ages 5-8.

Belle said the boy couldn't have been going more than 20 mph at the time of the accident. Adult riders average less than 30 mph in hare scrambles, he said.

"I just think it was kind of a freak thing," Belle said.

Dickson called it a "horrific accident" and said it's not time to place blame.

"I think that really hurts the family," he said. "My heart goes out to them."

A funeral for Evan is scheduled Saturday in Pompano Beach, Dickson said, adding he and his organization will do "whatever we can" to help the family.

The Florida Trail Riders Association has more than 2,500 members and organizes off-road motorcycle events statewide, according to its website.

Representatives of the Sarasota Area Dirt Riders Association, the group that promoted Saturday's race, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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