Britney Spears' niece Maddie was reportedly seriously injured Feb. 5 when the ATV in which she was riding crashed. Now, reports say her mother made a mistake letting her drive it in the first place, as she's under the minimum age restriction.
Maddie, 8, is the daughter of the pop star's sister, Jamie Lynn Spears.
The young girl was riding in a Polaris model AZR 170 when it flipped over and landed in a pond, reports TMZ. She was said to have been unconscious and trapped underwater for several minutes while her stepfather attempted to break her free from her seatbelt.
According to Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, the accident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. at the family home in Louisiana, notes the Daily Mail. Maddie was reportedly airlifted to a nearby hospital in serious condition.
As TMZ observed, she is younger than the age that the vehicle's manufacturer recommends for passengers or drivers. "Never allow a child under age 10 to operate or ride as a passenger in this vehicle," the Polaris manual says, though it leaves it up to the parent to decide if their child "has the ability and maturity to operate safely."
However, many people have not been able to operate that particular vehicle safely, as evidenced by several lawsuits, TMZ reports. In one case, the plaintiff's back was broken when the AZR flipped and pinned the driver's head and neck. In another case, a driver was seriously injured when the roll cage collapsed on her.
In general, there are "more than 700 deaths and 100,000 injuries each year involving ATVs," according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission."
When TMZ contacted the retailer believed to have sold the vehicle in which Maddie crashed, the company had no comment, but did offer prayers. The manufacturer also sent out prayers. "The safety of our riders is our absolute top priority," said a Polaris spokesperson. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."