Driver arrested, faces criminal charge

Katrina Elsworth

The driver of an all-terrain vehicle that crashed, injuring a Summerville teen last month, faces a criminal charge after investigators determined she had marijuana and prescription drugs in her system at the time of the wreck, police said.

Investigators on Monday arrested the driver, 32-year-old Katrina Elsworth, on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. She was released on $3,000 bail, Summerville police Capt. Jon Rogers said.

Kayla Beczynski, 15, was left paralyzed May 16 when she and Elsworth were thrown from a fast-moving ATV that crashed in a wooded area near the Sawmill Branch Trail north of Luden Drive. Beczynski was a passenger.

Police said Elsworth was driving fast and had Beczynski on an ATV that was designed for a single rider. Neither Elsworth nor Beczynski wore a helmet, according to an arrest affidavit.

Beczynski remains hospitalized, authorities said. Elsworth reportedly suffered minor injuries.

Elsworth told police she took two prescription medications before the ride. She said she had taken Adderall, a stimulant commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Diazepam, a sedative used as anti-anxiety medicine, authorities said.

Tests determined Ellsworth had marijuana, an amphetamine and benzodiazepine in her blood, according to an arrest affidavit.

State law defines contributing to the delinquency of a minor, in part, as an adult acting in such a way as to "willfully injure or endanger" a minor's health. If convicted, Elsworth faces a maximum punishment of three years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Nicole Getsinger, Beczynski's aunt, said her niece is showing signs of improvement but still faces a long recovery. The fact that she lived is a miracle, Getsinger said, and the family credits the efforts of Summerville Fire and Rescue to revive her that evening.

Beczynski will be transferred this week to the Shepherd Center, a catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta, for specialized care, Getsinger said.

"Really, deeply and truly I believe that she will be walking and talking again soon," Getsinger said.

In the meantime, family and friends are raising money to offset her

medical and recovery expenses.

The wreck occurred as state legislators were considering a bill that would set restrictions on ATV use. The bill cleared the House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate.

The measure is dubbed "Chandler's Law," after a 16-year-old boy who was killed in an ATV accident in May 2003. Some 44 states across the nation have ATV safety laws.

The bill would bar children younger than 6 from driving an ATV and limit the engine power for drivers between 6 and 16 years old. The measure would require youths 15 and younger to wear safety glasses and helmets while driving or riding on an ATV. Operators 15 and younger also would have to complete a safety course.

The proposal also would bar anyone from operating an ATV in a reckless manner or under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.

Gov. Mark Sanford has twice vetoed ATV safety legislation, saying the measures would infringe on property rights and personal freedoms. Sanford also criticized safety courses as a hidden tax on families.

In South Carolina, more than 100 people died in ATV crashes between 1982 and 2007, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of those who died, 28 were children younger than 16, authorities said.