CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — Travis Belton, 7, was at his great-grandfather's house Friday on Golden Apple Way in Conover, helping his uncle unload an all-terrain vehicle from a truck and put it in the garage, when he asked if he could hop on for the short ride.
Within minutes, his family said something happened and the ATV flipped over onto Travis.
He was rushed to the hospital, where he later died. Investigators said he suffered serious head injuries.
His family told Channel 9 the child was not wearing a helmet.
"Sometimes we let stuff slide, you know. It's OK, you're just putting it in the building," Travis' father Jimmy told Channel 9. "Those two seconds just taking it to the building can take everything."
His family described Travis as a bright, selfless young boy. He had just graduated from first grade and received the "lifesaver award," given to a student for their positive and kind nature.
"If you met him, you loved him. He never met a stranger. He was just a good kid. He was happy. He loved the outdoors," his aunt Shameka Presnell said.
Relatives said Travis knew to wear a helmet, but for this short trip, didn't put one on. They said that wearing a helmet could've saved his life.
As they work through the tragedy, the Belton family hopes others will remember Travis and keep their loved ones safe.
"Cherish every moment," Jimmy Belton said. "When you lose a child, you lose a part of your soul."
A memorial was held for Travis at his school, Lyle Creek Elementary.
Channel 9 reached out to the Catawba County Sheriff's Office for more on the investigation, and what caused the crash.
They tell Channel 9 alcohol was not involved.
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