Twin 17-year-old brothers were killed Sunday night when the ATVs they were operating collided on a ridge not far from their home, police said.
Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Capt. Derek Pyle said Alexander and Zachary Rohloff were both pronounced dead at Troy’s St. Mary’s Hospital shortly after the crash at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
He said a 15-year-old girl who was riding on the back of one of the ATVs was airlifted from the crash scene to Albany Medical Center Hospital and remains in critical condition today. The girl’s name was not being released.
Pyle said it is unclear exactly why the two all-terrain vehicles collided.
“It was a head-on crash,” Pyle said. “One was apparently going down the hill as the other was going up. We don’t know why they crashed into one another. The area is mostly an open pasture.”
The accident scene, 139 Kardas Road, was just down the road from the teens’ home at 70 Kardas Road., he said.
The teens’ father is Brian Rohloff, owner and operator of Rapid Rebar Inc. in Valley Falls and a developer who has built more than a dozen homes in Mechanicville in recent years.
“None of the victims was wearing a helmet,” Pyle said. “We do not have any reason to believe alcohol was involved.”
He said toxicology results will take several weeks, but police found no evidence that the teens were drinking.
There is no state regulation requiring helmets on ATVs. Although a license is not required, there are restrictions for operators under the age of 16, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles Web site.
Ken McGuire, secretary/treasurer of Rensselaer County’s Stateline Riders, a group with a membership in the New York State Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle Association, said although the state requires ATVs to be registered at the time of purchase, there are few other requirements for the four-wheel recreational vehicles.
“There needs to be safe places for these off-road riders,” McGuire said. “The state collects sales tax and registration fees for 100,000 dirt bikes and ATVs each year, but there is not one acre of state land available for riders.”
He said some portions of snowmobile trails are made available to dirt bikes, ATVs and other off road vehicles.
“If a portion of a trail system is on private land, that land owner can give permission for other riders,” he said. “We hate to hear of a tragedy like this. If there were marked trails, there would be directional controls.”