SALISBURY — Rowan County’s top prosecutor says she will not charge the parents of a 7-year-old killed in a Thanksgiving Day accident because the vehicle involved was a utility vehicle, not an ATV.
Following the investigation, District Attorney Brandy Cook said the vehicle Bryce Rueger was driving “does not meet the statutory definition of ‘All-Terrain Vehicle.’” Therefore, Cook said, prosecutors cannot charge the family with the applicable law.
According to state law, an ATV?is defined as “a motorized off-highway vehicle designed to travel on three or four low-pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control.”
Cook said the vehicle Bryce was driving had distinct differences.
“The vehicle that this seven year old (was driving) does not have that,” Cook said. “It has a steering wheel and two bucket seats.”
Investigators met with Cook Monday night and again Tuesday morning to discuss criminal action against Andy and Julie Rueger, Bryce’s parents.
“We hope that some good can come out of this tragedy,” Cook said, “and that families are aware of the potential dangers associated with the operation of these types of vehicles.”
Rueger and his cousin, Cameron Barr, 11, were thrown from an Arctic Cat 550 when the four-wheeler flipped during a turn near the family’s home on Country Hill Drive off Sherrill’s Ford Road. A witness told detectives the vehicle was traveling at high speeds.
Bryce Rueger was pronounced dead at the scene. Barr was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and was treated. Authorities said he suffered a fractured leg.
State law would prohibit the 7-year-old from driving an ATV and children ages 8 to 12 are allowed to ride only ATVs that are 70 cc or less.
The NASCAR community reached out to the boy’s father, Andy Rueger, following the crash. Rueger works as a crew member for Ryan Newman’s Sprint Cup Series team in 2012.
A post on Newman’s fan club website Thanksgiving Day shared the news.
“Andy Rueger, the 39 team’s gentle giant of a gas man, lost his 8-year-old son today in a tragic accident. There are no words.”