ATV-riding teen survives close call with cable on west Quebec trail

A teenage girl from Arnprior, Ont., suffered injuries after accidentally driving her all-terrain vehicle into a steel cable strung across a private road that she had been using for almost a decade.

Police investigating, say charges could follow

Taylor Yach was driving an ATV on private property when she struck a steel cable strung across a road near Ladysmith, Que., last weekend. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

A teenager from Arnprior, Ont., suffered painful neck injuries after accidentally driving her all-terrain vehicle into a steel cable strung across a private road that she had been using for almost a decade.

Some believe the cable was put across the road as a way to deter trespassers.

Taylor Yach, 16, was thrown from her ATV and knocked unconscious after running into the three-metre cable on Saturday near her family's cottage in Ladysmith, Que. She was taken to hospital and her family called police.

I thought I was going to die. I could have been decapitated.- Taylor Yach

"I didn't see it until the last minute and it was blending into the trees," Yach told CBC News. "I didn't have any time to hit the brake. I didn't have any time to duck. I thought I was going to die. I could have been decapitated. Honestly, I could have."

The disturbing close call has sparked concern among ATV enthusiasts in west Quebec, where residents say the problem of young drivers trespassing on private property is growing out of control. 
Yach's neck was injured after she was clotheslined and knocked off her ATV. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Yach admitted she was operating her ATV on private property at the time of the collision, but said she had been using the narrow dirt road near Highway 303 since she was a small child to tap maple trees and splash through puddles.

She said she drove along the same road with her father earlier this month, and has never been warned to stay away. Nor has she ever seen a "no trespassing" sign on the road. 

"We had been going down there for so long I didn't think anything of it," said Yach.

Yach said she had just turned a corner and was only travelling at about 15 km/h when she struck the cable. Nevertheless, the force was enough to rip two wooden posts the cable was attached to from the ground.
A cable wrapped around Taylor Yach's neck while she was on a four-wheeler in west Quebec. 0:28

'She flew right past me'

"I don't remember hitting [the cable] at all. The impact was enough to take the breath out of me," Yach said.

"She flew right past me and landed on the ground facing down," said Yach's friend, Rachael Maxwell, who was riding behind her on the four-wheeler. "I was so scared. I thought I was going to lose my best friend right in front of my eyes." 

Yach came to after a minute, and the two managed to make it back to the family cottage.
Rachael Maxwell was riding behind Yach on the four-wheeler when Yach unknowingly drove into the cable. (Taylor Yach)

"She turned her neck, and took off her helmet and my heart just dropped," said her mother, Angela Yach, who later drove her daughter to hospital. 

"It's really hard to justify why anyone would put a winch cable at neck height on any road — private property or not," she said. "Just the total lack of respect for human life. Put a gate, put a couple boards, put a cable, sure, but mark it and put it at a regular height." 

The incident has also disturbed the president of the region's ATV club. He likened the unmarked, neck-level wire to a "loaded gun."

That's like putting up a trap. That's trying to kill someone.- Patrick Amyotte, president of Club Quad Pontiac

"I know you don't want nobody on your property, but that's like putting up a trap," said Patrick Amyotte, president of Club Quad Pontiac. "That's trying to kill someone. The police have to be involved in this completely."

Amyotte added it's not uncommon for ATV drivers to accidentally cross onto private property while riding from one public trail network to another. 
Angela Yach, Taylor's mother, returned to the private property to take this photo of the cable that injured her daughter. (Angela Yach)

Quebec provincial police investigators will meet with the Yachs on Saturday when the family returns to their cottage. Police say charges could follow if investigators determine whoever strung the cable intended to cause harm.

'A rotten thing to do'

Nearby residents say that for the past year, the municipality has been pressuring police to crack down on ATV drivers trespassing on private property. But most agree stringing an unmarked cable across a trail is no way to deal with the problem.

"It's a rotten thing to do," said resident Bob Charette, whose wife's family has owned land in Ladysmith for more than a century. "You just don't do things like that. It's dirty."
Norma Charette stands near her brother's property, where they've had to post signs to keep trespassers away. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Charette said his family has posted "No ATVing" signs and placed ribbons on gates to discourage trespassers. 

"There are complaints all over the place. They don't have any respect for people's property," Charette's wife Norma said of the ATV drivers.

Yach said she's thankful to be alive, and is sharing her story to warn others to stay off private property even if they think the trail is safe. 

"You never know what people can do. Some people are extremely hateful. And some people are extremely crazy and it can take someone's life."

"It could have been so much worse," said Angela Yach. "So you thank your lucky stars that she's got angels that love her in heaven and that she's one tough cookie." 
Angela Yach with her daughter Taylor outside their home in Arnprior, Ont. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

About the Author

Ashley Burke

Ashley Burke is a video journalist at CBC News Ottawa who files for multiple platforms. Have a story idea? Email her at ashley.burke@cbc.ca