Residents fear injury, death from ATVs in French Quarter

People are worried someone will get hurt -- or worse.

NEW ORLEANS – Off-road vehicles on city streets has been an ongoing problem in New Orleans for years. Four wheelers and dirt bikes doing stunts on busy roads, even the interstate and French Quarter, is a common sight.

“I was looking down at my phone sending a text message when I heard the vehicles coming down the street,” New Orleans resident Kim Weikum said.

When Weikum looked up, she saw a large group of people on four wheelers and dirt bikes riding down Decatur Street.

“Probably 15 dirt bikes coming down the street. Then, right behind them were the ATVs all popping wheelings, revving their engines, swerving between traffic,” Weikum said.

Alan Minor said it worries him because the French Quarter is too crowded with tourists to have the ATVs doing stunts in the streets.

“I prayed because I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or anyone to get in trouble,” Minor said.

But that has already happened. Two weeks ago on Chef Menteur Highway, the driver of an ATV sideswiped a car and died after he was thrown from his vehicle.

Another deadly crash happened in 2014 on North Claiborne. One woman was killed and the man responsible is serving 10 years in prison.

“To the extend that we can, we try to stop them but it has to be done in a safe way because that vehicle should not be on the road,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

Police have made arrested and seized vehicles but Weikum wants more to be done.

“I feel like the police are just looking for low-hanging fruit,” Weikum said. “They want stuff that is easy. I realize they are overburdened and underpaid but you’ve got to start somewhere.”

Harrison said if you see any of this kind of illegal activity, call NOPD immediately. The department is working on setting up more traps to catch the perpetrators and are trying to avoid high-speed chases.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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