9-year-old's dirt-biking death called 'freak accident'

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 21, 2012 - 9:35 PM

His dad, a volunteer firefighter, was first responder at the scene.

As soon as Nick Engler's friends found him badly injured and not breathing near his dirt bike, they immediately got help. The first responder to the scene Friday was Oak Grove's assistant fire chief -- Rob Engler, Nick's father.

He tried to revive his 9-year-old son after what authorities are calling a "tragic, freak accident." Nickolas Engler died at the scene.

He was an avid motocross biker and snowmobiler and was wearing all the proper equipment when he went to the homemade dirt track near his family's north metro home around 7 p.m. Friday. He had gotten his parents' permission to be on the track and was familiar with it.

The friends he was meeting up with ran inside to grab shoes. When they returned, they found Engler on the ground, unresponsive and with significant head injuries and blood loss, Anoka County Lt. Paul Lenzmeier said. No one witnessed the accident on the 19600 block of Dogwood Street NW. His friends got his father, a volunteer firefighter for more than 18 years.

"His father was the first one to start life-saving measures," Lenzmeier said, calling it a "freak accident" because Engler was wearing a helmet, chest protector, gloves and motocross boots. "It wasn't the case of negligence on anyone's part."

An autopsy report has not yet been released, but Lenzmeier said it appears Engler died of head injuries.

Fire Chief Curt Hallermann, whose daughter attended school with Engler at St. Francis' Cedar Creek Elementary, said the firefighters' families all knew each other well.

"Here, we're kind of like a family ourselves," he said.

Engler was an outgoing boy who loved to fish, bike, play video games and be outdoors with his family, he added. His 10th birthday was next month. Now his parents and 3-year-old brother are struggling with the sudden loss.

It's "a fluke accident," Hallermann said. "It's such a shock and tragic loss."

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 • Twitter: @kellystrib

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