Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

4-Wheelers Tear Up County Bryceville: Drivers Caught Trespassing, Driving Illegally

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

4-Wheelers Tear Up County Bryceville: Drivers Caught Trespassing, Driving Illegally

Article excerpt

Byline: Allison Schaefers, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

When Jerry Baughman and his family traded their house in Mandarin for the peace and quiet of the country in Bryceville, they didn't envision sharing it with noisy all-terrain vehicles.

But that's what's happening.

"It's been a nightmare for us," Baughman said. "If you're outside, you have to move fast because they'll run you over."

Problems with ATVs, or four-wheelers, are so common in Baughman's neighborhood that sheriff's deputies have gone door-to-door to help educate ATV riders about the laws governing their use, Sgt. Shawn Mortimer of the Nassau County Sheriff's Office motor unit said.

But Mortimer said the problems aren't limited to Bryceville.

Nassau County sheriff's deputies said they get frequent complaints from citizens across the county worried about young, reckless ATV riders. Riders aren't wearing protective pads or helmets, and they aren't staying on private land, deputies said.

Some are driving the vehicles on public streets, in ditches and along rights-of-way, or trespassing on other people's property, Mortimer said.

Some hot-rodders on the highway are as young as 10 and are miles from home, he said.

"We've got kids all over the county riding on roadways, tearing up ditches and driving those four-wheelers at high rates of speeds," Mortimer said.

He said he's caught 10-years-olds traveling 70 mph on highways.

"Parents wouldn't give their little kids a car and let them go drive it," Mortimer said. "But some of them don't think anything of letting the children ride their four-wheelers far from home."

Not only are complaints flooding the phone lines, Nassau County's roads, culverts and private lands are getting torn up, Mortimer said.

"Complaints about ATVs take up about a third of our traffic calls," he said.

Nassau County commissioners say they also have gotten complaints from citizens. Commissioner Dave Howard sent the sheriff's department a letter in March asking for help reining in abusers. Howard said he's had several calls from residents of Lina, Burmeister and Nassauville.

Kelly Williams, a Nassauville retiree, said the constant abuse by ATV riders have forced him to put up a $6,000 chain-link fence on his property to block trespassers and to plant 125 trees in his yard to cut down noise.

"They go past my house and it vibrates," Williams said. "I'm not against people riding those things. They just need to follow the rules."

Williams said he's seen ATV riders race pass parked school buses and ruin county retention ponds and ditches.

"All it does is make extra work for the county and it costs you and me and all the other taxpayers excess money," he said.

Howard said he's talked with Williams and other county citizens a lot during the past two years. …

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