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Few regulations

Police officer says it's lucky no one died in golf cart crash that exposes the game's hidden danger

golf carts, golf course
With very few regulations in place across the nation, golf cart injuries have been on the rise since the early 1990s. Dellutri Law Group
River Plantation Country Club, golf course, Conro
A father and son drove their golf cart off a bridge at Conroe's River Plantation Country Club. River Plantation Country Club
golf carts, golf course
River Plantation Country Club, golf course, Conro

An afternoon of golf nearly came to a tragic conclusion Sunday, as Jamie Teran and his 12-year-old son Eddie crashed their golf cart through the wooden guardrails of a covered bridge at the River Plantation subdivision near Conroe.

Plunging between 20 and 30 feet into a small creek, the vehicle landed upside down in the water and pinned the two passengers, who were rescued within minutes according to Montgomery County constable Gene DeForest.

"The boy was pretty bruised and cut up, but said he was OK," the constable told CultureMap Monday morning. "The father's leg was in pretty bad shape, though."

Area fire fighters and EMTs rescued the two from the water, airlifting Jamie to Memorial Hermann Hospital in critical condition. (Thankfully, he was upgraded to good condition on Monday). Eddie was taken to the Conroe Medical Center with only minor injuries. 

"Seriously, I'm just glad no one was killed," constable Gene DeForest said. "The water can get up to your waist in that creek at times."

The incident comes only months after a teenager working at a golf tournament drove his cart off the other side of the same bridge. DeForest noted that the boy miraculously escaped unscathed, jumping up from the vehicle and shouting "I'm good" to onlookers above.

Jim Teran was at the scene when his son, who was driving the cart, and grandson fell off the covered bridge and has an idea of what might be causing the accidents.

“It’s really easy to get your wheels stuck in between the boards, so it’s easy to overcorrect,” Jim told Your Houston News. “I was on the other side when I heard the crash, and suspected what happened.”

"Seriously, I'm just glad no one was killed," DeForest said. "The water can get up to your waist in that creek at times. The way this golf cart landed, life easily could've been lost had the circumstances been slightly different."

Both the River Plantation Community Improvement Association and the River Plantation Country Club where the family was golfing did not return CultureMap's phone calls on Monday.

Safety Concerns

As thoroughly entertaining as it may be, driving around in these tiny electric carts can be a dangerous game — especially considering the complete lack of safety features like seat beats. As reported by the New York Times in 2008, simple turns at 11 miles per hour are enough to eject a passenger from a golf cart.

According to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, injuries from golf carts surged 132 percent between 1990 and 2006, hurting 150,000 people ranging in age from 2 months to 96 years. At the highest risk are children under 16, whose falls are twice as likely to cause head or neck injuries.

As speed and horsepower have increased through the last two decades, golf carts are found in a variety of terrain aside from the links — from airports to hospitals to even suburban subdivisions — and public safety concerns are on the rise, as local, state and federal regulation remains slim.

A community in Tennessee, where carts are so popular that area stores provide parking spaces, has seen a spate of serious golf cart crashes. One left a 14-year-old driver dead.

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