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18-year-old charged with killing passenger in side-by-side wreck

A side-by-side crash caused the death of a 19-year-old, and the 18-year-old driver is now charged with DUI causing death.

Adrian M. Strawderman, of Fairmont, is accused of having a blood-alcohol content above .08, according to a criminal complaint filed the West Virginia State Police on Tuesday.

Trooper C. Smith was sent to Pickhandle Hill Road, off of River Road, on April 24 for a single vehicle accident. When he arrived, he learned Strawderman was driving a side-by-side in a mud field. A side-by-side is a type of ATV vehicle, with car-like controls such as pedals, a steering wheel and seats that resemble those found in a car. The term side-by-side comes from the fact that the vehicles usually feature two seats beside each other. They occasionally also have back seats.

While Strawderman was operating it, the side-by-side rolled over and resulted in the death of her passenger, Madison Statler.

Statler graduated from Clay-Battelle High School in 2020 and was a student at West Virginia University studying pre-pharmacy, according to her obituary.

Smith told The Dominion Post Statler was pronounced dead at the scene and according to witnesses on scene, safety belts were not being used.

Smith saw several beer cans in the side-by-side Strawderman was operating and she told him she had been drinking, the complaint states. She was taken to J.W. Ruby Memorial for evaluation and hospital records show she had a BAC above .08.

Cases such as this one are tragic, Smith said.

“I know it’s common for people to drink while they’re riding side-by-sides, I’m not naive to that but it’s certainly a terrible idea,” Smith said.

Without drinking, people may be more apt to remember to use seat belts and helmets. It’s impossible to know what could have been different in this case, Smith said, but it’s always bad to operate any vehicle after drinking — and that includes side-by-sides and quads.

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