Charles Floyd Byrd, 08-17-05

Alaska digest

Published: August 19th, 2005


Teen dies in ditch after ATV flips; school district sends out counselors

A young man was found dead on a popular all-terrain vehicle trail near a gravel pit east of Fairbanks.

Charles Floyd Byrd, 17, apparently died in a four-wheeler accident, according to Alaska State Troopers.

An acquaintance of Byrd's happened upon the accident scene and contacted troopers about 11 a.m. Wednesday, trooper Josh Bentz said.

Byrd's body, as well as the four-wheeler, were in a large ditch that the trail crosses, Bentz said.

Byrd was to begin his senior year at North Pole High School on Thursday morning, according to Fairbanks North Star Borough School District officials. A crisis team of psychologists and counselors was assigned to the school to monitor and help students.

"What a horrible way, a tragic way, to start the school year," Superintendent Ann Shortt said.

The area where Byrd died is a popular four-wheeling spot, Bentz said, and is covered with tracks. However, he said, tracks at the scene indicate Byrd was riding the four-wheeler down one side of the ditch and hit the bottom hard, causing the ATV to flip up the opposite side of the ditch.

"That is what we suspect happened, but we haven't ruled anything out. We can't tell where he actually lost control," Bentz said. "There was damage to the front of the four-wheeler -- extensive damage."

Byrd's body had no visible injuries, he said, and will be sent to the medical examiner in Anchorage for an autopsy. He said he is not sure whether Byrd was wearing a helmet but that one was found nearby.

The accident likely happened late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, according to Bentz. The teen was last seen at his home about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

-- The Associated Press