POLICE are frustrated that ATV users, mainly farmers, still refuse to wear life-saving helmets.
"I am quite sure if he was wearing a helmet the outcome would have been much different," Sgt Graeme Callaghan said of an accident that claimed the life of 58-year-old Terry Sadler at Murchison on Sunday.
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The veteran cop said roll-over ATV protection was urgently needed but was probably still years away.
"The helmet first - an open-face helmet is fine - and we need to combine that with some education. That must be our immediate response," Sgt Callaghan said.
Trying to be friendly cost Mr Sadler his life. He had moved to his lifestyle block on the banks of the Goulburn River five weeks ago and was carting firewood to his new neighbours when his trailer and ATV jack-knifed, crushing him.
Sgt Callaghan showed The Weekly Times the impounded quad bike and trailer while coroner's reports were being prepared.
"It looks in pretty good nick, but he was missing a bit of gear," he said.
The veteran policeman believes making the wearing of helmets mandatory is long overdue - fatally overdue for many people, particularly farmers.
"The rollover bar thing is years away. We need to get cracking on this now," he said.
Acting Sgt Tim Fraser from Shepparton police said an ATV was like a firearm.
"They are OK as long as they are used correctly."
Several neighbouring farmers agreed that ATVs were a vital piece of equipment.
One farmer admitted rolling his ATV three times in recent years. Fortunately none caused a serious injury but they instilled in him fear and a newfound respect.
They have adopted a "wait and see" attitude on rollover bars but will have nothing to do with helmets.
"We are off and on them all day. It would drive you mad taking helmets on and off all the time," one said.
Sgt Callaghan said farmers were difficult students.
"An open-face helmet for a farmer will suffice but they also need to learn to drive these things with respect."
The policeman said he was not certain what caused Mr Sadler's fatal accident.
"That is for the coroner to determine, if it even comes to that," Sgt Callaghan said.
"But I can tell you a helmet would have saved him or prevented most of the injury."
Mr Sadler was clearing fallen timber from his river paddock.
He had an old but well-loved Honda ATV with a Queensland-registered 5m x 3m trailer. Both had seen better days but he looked after his things.
Mr Sadler also paid attention to the distribution of the sawn wood around the floor of the trailer and made sure it wasn't carrying too much weight.
Not one stick of wood fell out of the trailer when the quad bike jack-knifed.
On Sunday, helmet-less Mr Sadler drove the ATV the few hundred metres up the road with a load of firewood.
One of the investigating policeman later described his actions as that of being a good Samaritan.
Just a few metres after the bitumen became dirt/gravel the man lost control and he became yet another ATV statistic.
His grieving partner, Mary, was surrounded by family on Monday and declined to speak to the media.
The quick-thinking owner of a nearby winery heard the crash and raced over with a forklift to take the heavy machine off the man.
That neighbour owns an ATV and said he would be dusting off his helmet every time he used it from now on.