MARSHALL COUNTY, Miss. — Deputies have identified the teenager killed in an ATV accident near Red Banks on Sunday, as neighbors say they hoped something like this wouldn’t happen on their street.
Martavis Smith, 16, a student at H.W. Byers High School, was one of five passengers on what’s called a “side by side”-type ATV, when it apparently veered off Wildcat Bottom Cove and struck a tree.
Investigators say they are looking into complaints the ATV involved in Sunday’s crash was seen earlier in the day being driven at a high rate of speed.
People who live near the crash site say they’ve complained about ATVs speeding the area.
“It’s been told that I’m the mean lady that calls the law,” neighbor Carrie Rhodes said. “But I did it because I didn’t want this to happen.”
Rhodes says she’s complained numerous times about ATVs speeding up and down Wildcat Bottom Cove in Marshall County.
“These young kids get on them and they act like they’re relentless,” she said. “Nothing’s going to happen to them. Running wide open on these roads.”
Monday, she wished she could have done more to prevent the fatal crash that caused Smith’s death.
“I know he was a well-loved young man, he just got on the football team. He was an athletic kid, you know, loved life,” Rhodes said.
There were four minors and an adult in the vehicle when it apparently veered off the road. Smith was ejected from the vehicle when it struck a tree head-on.
The impact, which knocked bark of the tree, was so loud that Jennifer Sheehy’s husband clearly heard it.
“He was inside our residence and he heard some commotion and some screaming from some girls,” she said.
She says her husband called 911, then came outside and tried to help the boy when he saw the accident.
Investigators say the vehicle is larger than standard ATVs. It has a roof and windshield and holds more passengers.
It also has seat belts, but Major David Cook, with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, said it appears they weren’t being worn at the time of the accident.
Cook said this is a rural area of Marshall County where ATVs are popular, but not always safely operated.
“We have received complaints and we have addressed them to the best of our ability,” Cook said. “That is a rural area, a lot of people do get out and ride and people do call, and are helpful to all. ”
You’re asked to call the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office if you witnessed the crash or can provide additional information.
Lela Hale, superintendent of Marshall County schools, released a statement Monday, saying:
”On behalf of the Marshall County School District, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family of Martavis Smith. Martavis was an avid athlete playing football, basketball, and baseball, as well as being a member of the band. Please keep his family, our students, staff, administrators, and the H. W. Byers community in your thoughts and prayers.The H. W. Byers students are in charge of planning a memorial for their beloved classmate and friend.”