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February 18, 2013

In memory: South students sign ATV safety pledge to honor former classmate

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — One year ago, South Laurel High sophomore Nathaniel Gregory lost his life at 16 in an ATV accident.  To honor the one year anniversary of his death, his sisters, Heather Gregory and Subrina Honeycutt, initiated Nathaniel’s Pledge at Laurel County 4-H/Youth Development and the Cooperative Extension Office on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

Nathaniel Gregory would have been a junior this year, Honeycutt said, so she and Heather Gregory wanted to make his loss more of a reality to his fellow classmates, and turn it into something positive.

“I thought it’d be nice to start something because there’s a lot of kids that get out and do crazy stuff. They’re teenagers, you know.  They get out and hurt themselves like he did,” Honeycutt said.

In all, 271 students signed the pledge to put safety first while riding an ATV.

Honeycutt said Nathaniel had protective gear, but just didn’t put it on.  At the time of the accident, Laurel County deputies reported Nathaniel Gregory lost control of his ATV off Pine Grove School Road, several miles in a wooded area, and was found under the four-wheeler.

“He grew up riding…It was his favorite thing to do,” Honeycutt said.

In 2012, Kentucky Farm Bureau reported that Kentucky has the second-highest rate of ATV fatalities in the nation.  Between 2007 and 2010, there were 122 ATV related deaths in the state, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  CPSC data also showed a significant number of ATV injuries involved children under the age of 16.

Following the pledge at South Laurel High on Wednesday, students held a moment of silence for Nathaniel.  

“I appreciate people taking the pledge to be safe because I know Nathaniel would have wanted everyone to be safe after what happened to him.  It was really hard losing him and we don’t want other people going through losing people they care about,” Heather Gregory said.

“I hope everyone looks up to it (the pledge) and is serious about it,” Honeycutt said.

mmccrarey@sentinel-echo.com

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