NASHVILLE -- A Sunday afternoon joy ride on a four-wheeler ended in death for two Nashville teens and injured a third teen from Hahira, officials said.

Shane Thompson, 19, and Scarlett Barker, 14, died after the all-terrain vehicle they were riding struck a tree off Cross Creek Road, said Berrien County Sheriff Jerry Brogdon. Jessica Martin, 14, Hahira remained at South Georgia Medical Center where she was listed in good condition Monday, officials at SGMC said. Thompson was employed at Nashville Mills, and Barker had completed ninth grade at Lowndes High School.

Brogdon said deputies responded to Cross Creek Road at about 7 p.m. where they discovered the trio had run off the dirt road and slammed into a tree. He said they are not certain who was driving the four-wheeler, but that none of the teens was wearing a helmet.

The accident happened off Highway 168, commonly called the Homerville Highway, about 10 miles from Nashville where the trio was riding after being at "Berrien Beach" on the Alapaha River, he said.

Brogdon said his office regularly receives calls about people riding the ATVs on dirt roads, but it is difficult to control the problem. The ATVs have stickers that state no riders are allowed, but Brogdon said it is common for people to have passengers.

"This is a recreational thing, especially for young people," he said. "It is against state law to ride on public roads. When we get calls, we go out and if it's young people, we escort them back home and talk with their parents."

In face of the deaths, Brogdon said his office would step up enforcement of the laws.

"People are going to have to obey the laws," he said. "If they are going to ride, they have to wear helmets which will at least prevent head injuries."

In September 2002, five children died in Coffee County while riding an ATV along a public road. A sixth child was injured, and the woman who struck them was charged with vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.



To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.

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