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Alex Cabrero, Deseret News
ATV riders have fun at Sand Hallow State Park in Hurricane, Utah.

HURRICANE — Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane is supposed to be nothing but fun on the water and sand. But sometimes that fun can get you into trouble.

“It’s dangerous,” said Laura Melling, manager of Sand Hollow State Park. “You’ve got to be careful. You need to not outstride your ability.”

The park near St. George in southwestern Utah saw 183,691 visitors last year. So far this year, there have been at least a dozen accidents at the park, which isn’t unusual. But a man died in one of those accidents. On June 4, a man who went up a sand ridge didn't realize the other side was a sharp drop-off and ended up rolling his vehicle and dying. It was the first fatality at the park in three years.

Park rangers have been busy helping people who misjudge the sand terrain and get hurt, especially when it’s windy.

Melling tells people at the gate, ‘If you’re coming in this park, it’s required you have fun.” She also tells them to be prepared, which is what Jason Jones and his family are doing.

They use helmets, seat belts, flags and anything else to keep them safe, especially the children.

“We want to have a fun time out here and keep them safe,” Jones said. “We’d like to spend the time out on the dunes and not at the hospital.”

Rangers encourage all riders to have a preliminary plan in place before heading out for a ride. Riders should let someone know where they are going when they and plan to return. They recommend riders get current weather conditions before heading out.

They also recommend people take safety courses, especially if children will be riding. Anyone over the age of 8 who wishes to operate ATVs is required to have a valid OHV Safety Certificate or a driver’s license. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is offering new off-highway vehicle classes. They will have 4-hour OHV education courses and a 4-hour basic OHV skills course. For more information send an email to [email protected]

But even then, safety precautions can only do so much. “Sometimes you can do everything right, and you will still have an accident,” Melling said.

Which is why rangers are asking riders to just take it easy and remember fun is leaving the park with good memories.

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