Sleepover quad bike ride cost six-year-old her life
AS SHE was dropped home, six-year-old Myley Maxwell asked her mum if she could stay at her friend's birthday sleepover party.
"Can I go?" she pleaded.
She had just been to Wee Waa Bowling Club's Chinese restaurant for dinner with four other girls as part of the celebrations for her older friend turning 13. The two country girls shared a strong bond despite the age difference.
"No we've just been on holidays you don't need to stay," her mum Sheree said.
Her friend's mum driving the car chipped in: "She'll be fine, she'll be right to stay. All the girls want her to stay".
But about 14 hours later Myley suffered horrific head injuries after being thrown from a 420cc Red Honda TRX quad bike at her friend's 9000-acre property, 600km northwest of Sydney.
She was sitting at the front closest to the handlebar while a 13-year-old girl drove and a third girl, also 13, sat on the back using her mobile phone to film.
The quad suddenly left the dirt track and crashed into two trees about 12.16pm.
The girls on the other bike heard a loud bang and rushed to help.
But Myley's head hit a trunk so hard she had no chance of surviving.
This week an inquest into the "beautiful" girl's death heard that a coroner had made recommendations in 2015 - two years before the accident - that were "relevant" to Myley's accident while investigating nine other quad bike fatalities in NSW.
* That helmets on quad bikes become mandatory;
* That the government investigate compulsory licencing or training to ride adult-sized quads; and
* Banning children under-16 driving adult quads.
But even now, Counsel Assisting the Coroner Peggy Dwyer said, "there are no regulations that prevent children riding a quad bike on roads that are not public. That means that all over NSW, children can ride unlicensed, untrained and unsupervised. There is no regulation requiring them to wear helmets, safety gear or not to carry passenger".
After cooking the girls' breakfast, the mum hosting the sleepover agreed the girls could ride the two adult-sized quads but recalled telling them to put a "hat" on Myley, which was what she would call a helmet.
It didn't happen - they instead put a baseball cap on her.
The mother, who can't be named, conceded during the inquest: "My children don't normally ride with helmets on as they can't see over the top of the bikes."
She said her daughter - who was on the second quad that didn't crash - was just five years old when she was allowed to first drive an adult quad.
Myley's parents Josh and Sheree told The Daily Telegraph they would never have let their daughter go on the quad bikes that day had they known and called for laws to be put in place to stop the same thing happening to anyone else.
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries ATV manager Mark Collins told the inquest the Australian peak body for quad bikes supported mandatory use of helmets, compulsory training or licencing and banning children under 16 from riding adult-sized vehicles.
"Most definitely it's widely known that helmets are the most effective safety device on an ATV," he said.
He said research showed wearing a helmet reduced fatalities by 40 per cent.
A spokeswoman for Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Matt Kean said the government had introduced the $7.6 million NSW Quad Bike Safety Improvement Program in 2016.
"This covers free rural and remote training with each participant receiving a free compliant helmet as well as two safety rebates up to the value of $1,000 each," the spokeswoman said.
There have been more than 200 quad bike deaths in Australia between 2001 and 2015.
In 2017 three of the 11 deaths that occurred were of children under eight.