Off-Roaders Being Safety Conscious after Dunes Death
Story By: Tim Lavigne, Meteorologist and Reporter
WINTERHAVEN, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - As we get deeper into the winter months, more and more off-road enthusiasts are hitting the Imperial Sand Dunes to relax and get some thrills.
But with more people out riding, there's also higher chances for accidents to happen. So how do you enjoy the sun, sand and your off-road toys while staying safe?
13 On Your Side spoke with experienced duners and officials from the Bureau of Land Management park rangers for some tips.
They say keeping to guidelines and laws set by the Bureau will minimize accidents.
Experienced duner Mali Martinez of Yuma heads out to the dunes, just a short trip away from her home, every weekend.
The 18-year-old dune veteran she has been going to the Imperial Valley Sand Dunes since she was a child, and that she follows all safety precautions. "I always bring helmets, goggles, you know anything that is required by law." says Martinez.
She adds that the heavy traffic on the dunes in the winter months can cause even the safest of drivers to have an accident.
Most recently, a dune crash left a 16-year-old teen boy and an elderly man dead at the sand dunes in Glamis on December 29, 2013.
Carey Goldstein, Park Ranger for the Bureau of Land Management, says "It's good to be cautious, travel in groups, make sure you keep water with you and a phone with you. Have something with a GPS with you."
Goldstein says GPS technology on the 120 square mile expanse of the Buttercup Dunes, can mean the difference between a rescue that takes hours and a rescue that only takes minutes.
"If you don't know where you are and you call and say, 'Oh, I'm out by that big dune,' it might take a while to find you. If you have GPS coordinates it is a lot easier to find you."
As for Martinez, last week's deadly crash hasn't crushed her spirit for off-roading at the Dunes. "There's always a danger to it. You can't just stop going out," Martinez said.
"Something can happen all the time, you just have to be careful."
More information on Safety Tips can be found at the Bureau's Website: www.blm.gov/
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