Teen Killed in Dirt Bike Accident Identified

15 year old Austin “AJ” Zwigart of Valencia, PA was riding his bike in Lilburn when he was killed the day before Thanksgiving.

The teen killed in a tragic dirt bike accident the day before Thanksgiving has been identified.

Lilburn police say 15 year old Austin “AJ” Zwigart of Valencia, PA died while riding his bike Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Zwigart and his cousin were riding their dirt bikes behind a locked gate on private property owned by a power company next to Arcado Elementary School on Arcado Road. 

The boy's cousin told police Zwigart tried to cross a small creek about 10 feet wide with banks about three feet high. Zwigart's bike hit the bank on the far side and the teen was thrown from his bike and landed head first on the bank.

His cousin reached him a few seconds later and found Zwigart unresponsive. The cousin called 911, but fire personnel did not find any signs of life. 

No charges are pending in the accident.

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Anita French December 03, 2013 at 01:12 PM
I am so saddened by this tragedy. My heart goes out to AJ's family here in Lilburn and Pennsylvania. :(
Dana Frank Leatham December 03, 2013 at 11:37 PM
First of all, I don't know why there is a picture of a crime scene. There was no crime committed! Secondly, the kids entered the power lines behind Arcado elementry school. There were no locked gates, let a lone gates at all! There are no private property signs posted in the area that they were riding, which is frequented by many ATV owners. This is a very sad, and tragic accident, but yet, you seem to paint these kids as criminals. It would be nice if you would do some due diligence before reporting on a story like this in the future! From, A family member from the deceased.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) December 04, 2013 at 09:20 AM
Dana, Thanks for your comment. This article was written based on the press release from the police department and the information they had. In no way were we treating the children as criminals. But as a family member, if you would like to share more about AJ and your memories of him, that would be wonderful. Thanks.
Shannon Honeycutt-Smith December 04, 2013 at 10:28 PM
You should retract this piece. I cannot believe what you are putting this poor family through writing this garbage.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) December 04, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Shannon, Thank you for your comment and your concern. As I have stated before, this article is based upon information provided by the City of Lilburn and the Lilburn Police Department. I have reached out to family members for more information about the tragic accident but have not heard a response.
Shannon Honeycutt-Smith December 04, 2013 at 10:39 PM
And the family members are asking you to retract it! You insinuate they were doing something wrong, when all they were being were young boys. Retract the piece.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) December 04, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Here is the link to the release from the police. http://www.cityoflilburn.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=41 Again, if the family would like to provide more insight, I will gladly write their story.
Renee Ganter December 04, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Vanzetta, first of all, did you ever think that the reason the family members are not responding is because they are burying a sweet 15 year old child. Second, why on earth would you put a picture of crime scene tape in the article?!? Third, maybe some research should have been done beyond the " police report". Please retract this arrival!!!!
James Leatham December 04, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Well it doesn't appear that you have written any story at all. All you have done is simply regurgitate a copy what someone else wrote. That does not make you a journalist. Aren't journalist supposed to go get the story, maybe ask some questions, perhaps make some inquiries about the things that happen. I didn't realize you just sit back and wait for the family come to you. You show no initiative and no creativity with this article. You had a chance to be different, it would have required some leg work on your part you could have taken a different approach to this tragedy, Maybe told the story of these two boys and how much they meant to each other. You didn't even bother to go get your own picture of the scene. You are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. You are what we call sheeple, part of the ever so easily controlled mass population with no ability to think for ones self. What you do next will be a testament to your true character. The ball is in your court.
Mike Williams December 05, 2013 at 12:03 AM
There WAS a crime committed. The kids were trespassing. A true tragedy, but don't blame the messenger. Everyone is sorry for the loss, so chill out.
James Leatham December 05, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Gee mike, great response you prove my point exactly, thanks for making it so simple..
Stacy Sheese Baeszler December 05, 2013 at 01:25 AM
Mike, I pray you never have to live this nightmare! If you do one day... I'm pretty sure you will regret every word!!! Compassion and respect reporting please!!!! And facts!!!!
Stacy Sheese Baeszler December 05, 2013 at 01:37 AM
I didn't know AJ, but I know a few family members that live in my neighborhood. When I read your commit, Mike, it hurt me! Can't imagine what it dose to someone who knew and loved him!!!! They were being kids!!! Why don't you go to the area yourself and see if you see anything waring you to stay out!
Stacy Sheese Baeszler December 05, 2013 at 01:38 AM
Sean December 05, 2013 at 08:17 AM
It's a tragedy the boy died but don't pretend like he wasn't breaking the law. ALL utilities and power lines AND the property under them is owned by UTILITY companies. Everyone knows that. If it's not your property or you don't have express permission to be there it is trespassing. Plain and simple. The writer used the facts presented in the police report. Don't like it? Complain to the police.
Kelly Edwards Frank December 05, 2013 at 09:11 AM
The real issue here isn't that Ms. Evans reported the story it is that she reported it inaccurately. She wrote it in such a way as to persuade her readers into believing that these boys were harden criminals when actually they were just boys doing what boys do. She says she reached out to the family for their side but no family member recalls hearing from her. Even if she did make an attempt at reaching the family and was unable to what was stopping her from going to the scene herself and posting her own pictures instead of pulling some arbitrary photo off of Google? When a reporter reports a story like this it questions their journalistic integrity and leaves their readers wondering what other articles they have written are truthful and accurate. As a reporter you are suppose to gather the facts from all sides and write the story as it happened and not as you want your readers to believe it happened. Perhaps Ms. Evans should stick to reporting fallen trees and missing road signs and leave the difficult stories to the professionals.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) December 05, 2013 at 03:30 PM
I just got off the phone with Lilburn Police Capt. Thom Bardugon. He verified that what I reported is accurate and true. He also referred to OCGA 40-7-4. Bardugon also said if any family members have any further questions about this tragic incident to please contact him directly.
Kelly Edwards Frank December 05, 2013 at 06:07 PM
This is great example of quality reporting. You verify the facts after you report the story. I have one question, I did you also verify the broken locked gate that the boys supposedly passed through? Did you also verify the picture of the crime scene tape that you originally posted? Actually after thinking this through further maybe I did get ahead of myself and wrongly bring into question your journalistic integrity. Perhaps I should have made a better effort in gather facts and hearing all sides before trying to convince others that my opinion is what's real. I suppose it's good that you are able to bring this to my attention and defend your character. I know not everyone is as fortunate. Going forward, in an effort to move passed this I will not be making any more post to this this blog. I would only like to close by saying on behalf of the family I want to express a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who offered their sympathy and support.
Vanzetta Evans (Editor) December 05, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Kelly, the story never says a broken locked gate, just a locked gate and the police captain verified it. The tape photo is a file photo we use, like other news agencies, for police stories because I was on vacation when the tragedy occurred. Thank you for your words, and again, my sympathies to the family.
Heather Becker December 05, 2013 at 08:54 PM
As far as I'm concerned, this is a misleading article. You are making the boys out as criminals. If you weren't, you would have never chosen the picture that you did. I have talked to numerous people who agree there is no locked gate where they were, nor are there trespassing signs. At 15 years old, if you see an open field, the last thing on your mind is that you are trespassing...especially if the area is one that many others have used for the same purpose. If you wanted to report on the tragic loss, you cloud have
Heather Becker December 05, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Could have done it a much more compassionate manner! There is no consideration for the family's feelings...that is not good journalism!


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