Parents of six-year-old quad bike victim want change

'Myley's law': parents of six-year-old quad bike victim want change


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Myley Maxwell, 6, died in a quad bike crash on a rural NSW property in March 2017.

Myley Maxwell, 6, died in a quad bike crash on a rural NSW property in March 2017.

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A coroner has recommended making it a criminal offence to allow young children to ride adult-sized quad bikes.

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Josh Maxwell wants it to be known as "Myley's law": a series of coronial recommendations that, if implemented, could prevent tragedies similar to the one which took the life of his six-year-old daughter.

Myley Maxwell was one of two young passengers on a quad bike being driven by a 13-year-old girl on a property near Narrabri, in the state's west, when it collided with a tree.

She succumbed to head injuries soon after.

"It's something that we, the family have got to deal with for the rest of our lives. But if we can make change to prevent other children being put in this position, we've done our job as parents," Mr Maxwell said outside the NSW Coroner's Court in Lidcombe on Thursday morning.

Josh Maxwell wants legislative change to stop more children dying from quad bikes. Photo: Angus Thompson

Josh Maxwell wants legislative change to stop more children dying from quad bikes. Photo: Angus Thompson

The grieving New England father's comments came after Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan handed down her findings following in inquest into Myley's death, among them that adults face criminal prosecution for allowing children under 16 to ride adult-sized quad bikes.

She also recommended the NSW Attorney-General consider introducing legislation making it an offence for adults to allow children to ride any quad bike without a helmet, and legislation making it easier for police to be able to enter properties where they suspected an offence had occurred.

"Tragically, Myley is not the first child to have died in this way," Ms Ryan said.

Of the 125 quad bike-related deaths in Australia between 2011 and 2018, 18 were of children aged under 16. Ms Ryan said two more children died in separate incidents involving quad bikes in April this year.

In what Ms Ryan described as a "disappointing state of affairs", Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund made similar recommendations in November 2015 that are yet to be implemented.

Those recommendations arose from an inquest into the quad bike-related deaths of nine people, including three children.

Ms Ryan said the then-attorney-general Gabrielle Upton declined to give the Law Reform Commission a reference to consider enacting the recommendations following advice from then-roads minister Duncan Gay that road transport law did not apply to private land.

Mr Maxwell said if rules had been previously imposed, they "could've saved our daughter's life".

Ms Ryan said Myley's death raised the question of how cultural resistance to safety changes could be overcome, and that it was "discouraging" to hear the adults Myley was staying with hadn't read the warning labels on their bikes, nor were aware of relevant safety campaigns.

She said a "critical factor" in the circumstances of Myley's death "was the willingness of adults to permit children to use quad bikes in ways which were so far outside their intended usage, and with entire disregard for the warnings prominently displayed on them".

On the morning of March 5, 2017, five girls who had been staying at a property near Narrabri were given permission by one of the children's parents to ride two adult-sized quad bikes.

The four 13-year-old girls, whose identities have been suppressed, and Myley took off without helmets, riding around two properties.

Towards the end of their trip, two girls were riding on one quad bike in front, while Myley and the two others were on the second. Myley was sitting in front of the girl who was driving, and a third girl sitting at the back was filming.

"The video recording shows that the five girls were in high spirits, laughing, singing and calling out to each other as they rode," Ms Ryan said, adding there was a "chilling moment" when one of the girls appeared to lose control of her steering.

"Oh my god, I was going to full on stack," one of the girls could be heard saying.

Myley said, "I hated that."

Myley's family argued the release of that footage - nine clips of which were played during the inquest - would help prevent similar tragedies by highlighting the dangers.

But Ms Ryan chose to keep the footage suppressed as its release could cause severe distress to the other girls involved.

Mr Maxwell said he and his wife, Sheree, had cherished every day with Myley.

"She'd walk into a room, her other two siblings would light up like she did when she entered that room," he said.

Asked how he would like his daughter to be remembered, he replied,"with Myley's law: to make sure that no other child, no other family's got to deal with this again".

smh.com.au

The story Parents of six-year-old quad bike victim want change first appeared on Farm Online.

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