April 26, 2017 — A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of two women from Arizona who died when their Polaris ATV tipped over and exploded into flames.
The rollover accident occurred on September 2, 2016, over Labor Day weekend last year. Destiny Dixon, 28, was driving a 2010 model-year Polaris Ranger 800 ATV with passenger Debbie Swann, 51.
The ATV slowly tipped over on the passenger side and slid backwards as Ms. Dixon navigated the “Tip Over Challenge” obstacle on the Hell’s Revenge Trail in the Salt Flats Recreation Area in Moab, Utah.
Investigators say the fuel neck hit the ground and the gas cap ripped off as the ATV slid backwards, allowing large amounts of gasoline to pour out of the gas tank. The ATV burst into flames within seconds.
Neither woman had time to unbuckle their seatbelts before they died. The women were with friends who arrived just as the ATV exploded. According to a lawyer representing the families of both women:
“Right before they could get there, it burst into flames and there was nothing they could do. Everybody who was with Debbie and Destiny had to watch them burn to death.”
Lawyers say the ATV is defective because the fuel tank is located too close to riders and the gas cap is unprotected in rollover accidents. Unlike ATVs, passenger vehicles have a gas cap that is fully recessed in the body of the vehicle and protected by a metal door. Passenger vehicles also automatically shut off the fuel pump in rollover accidents.
Polaris is no stranger to complaints about ATV fires. The company has recalled over 338,000 vehicles since 2015 for a variety of safety defects, but mostly involving potential fire hazards. Nearly 250 fires have been associated with Polaris ATVs in recent years. The vehicle the women were driving has not been recalled by Polaris.
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