LOCK HAVEN - One local teen was killed and two others were injured in separate weekend crashes - two involving ATV vehicles and the other a golf cart.
All three girls were transported by Life Flight helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville with serious injuries.
Noelle Anne Heck, 18, of 735 Fox Road, Jersey Shore, died Monday afternoon at Geisinger, according to family members.
Heather Marie Orndorf, 15, daughter of Carrie and Dean Orndorf of Wynn Avenue, Beech Creek, was listed in critical condition Tuesday night at Geisinger.
Denise Schrock, 18, of Indiana, who is employed at the Ice Shack in Mill Hall, was listed in fair condition Tuesday night at Geisinger. She was flown to Geisinger from nearby Peddie Park.
A 2013 graduate of the Jersey Shore High School, Heck reportedly was driving an ATV in the area of Bridge Lane in Beech Creek Township on Saturday at about 1 p.m. when the vehicle upset, resulting in extensive internal injuries. She was employed at First Quality and Camerer Farms in Jersey Shore.
Orndorf was a passenger in an electric golf cart, riding on Sun Valley Road in Lamar Township on Friday afternoon.
"A small animal ran out in front of the two girls," said Billie Orndorf, Heather's cousin. "The girl driving swerved, and the sharpness of the swerve threw Heather out of the golf cart." Family reported her head struck the macadam pavement.
"We're estimating that the girls were only going 10 to 15 miles per hour when they swerved," Billie said. "The girl driving has driven that golf cart multiple times ... it was just a freak accident."
Orndorf is a member of the Central Mountain High School Class of 2015.
Family and friends gathered Saturday night at the Beech Creek baseball field for a vigil, joining together to pray for Orndorf and her family.
Schrock was injured when she crashed her ATV into a tree after losing control of the vehicle.
The accident occurred at 7:17 p.m. Sunday in Colebrook Township along the Tangascootac Road in the vicinity of the Bald Eagle Wilderness Boys Camp School.
Although state police at Lamar were called and investigated all of the accidents, they were all on private property, so police are not required to issue press releases to the media.
However, Cpl. John Lavrich noted the importance of wearing helmets and knowing that these types of vehicles can be dangerous.
He said that all three girls would have walked away from the accidents, had it not been for the lack of headgear. None of them were wearing helmets, he said.
"It was a tragic weekend in Clinton County," Lavrich said. "Tragic is the only word that can be used to describe it. It's rare that the Life Flight helicopter team is as busy as state police and local EMTs, but that's what happened this weekend."
In the aftermath of the accidents, Lavrich had high praise for the local firefighters, rescue workers and emergency medical technicians who responded to the emergencies, but said given the nature of the crashes - which generally occurred in rural, forested areas suited to ATV use - far from population centers response times are common with these types of incidents.
"People take recreation vehicles for granted," Lavrich said. "They are fun, but they are registered motor vehicles for a reason. They can sustain speeds that can severely injure or kill you if you aren't careful. Even a slow roll-over can lead to serious or fatal injuries. An ATV's handling characteristics are different from a car or an SUV. Experience helps a lot, but training helps a lot more. People who use them need to know how to handle them."
Lavrich said he spoke both as a state trooper and from personal experience, as he owns two ATVs.
"My whole family has them," he said, "and I stress safety and training as much as I can with my family and friends ... helmets would have really helped these girls."
"It's hard," he said. "It's especially hard when you have young people enjoying themselves on a bright, sunny, summer day ... and then you're standing there in the forest wondering why this had to happen and whether they'll be OK.
"If any of them were wearing a helmet, they would have escaped injury," he added. "That's a must. The ground is not soft, and you're facing blunt force head trauma, even if you aren't driving on pavement."