June 14, 2024

Seat belt saves Eagle staffer’s life


This archived article was written by: Christopher Palo

Never miss an opportunity to talk about safety… a cautionary tale.
Seat belts, many people swear by them and others are adamantly against them. Most have good reasons and some give the outlandish excuse that they are uncomfortable. Comfort or not, seat belts save more lives than they kill. I’m here to tell you the tale of one such event where a seat belt saved my life over the holiday break.
On the final leg of a 3,500-mile trip, from Price, Utah, to Bellingham, Wash., and back to Price, my friend Jacob Martin and I had just passed into Utah from Idaho on I-15. He had been checking the weather for Utah the whole day and kept telling me a storm hit and the roads were nasty. I replied much as any stubborn-headed man would. “I’ve driven Utah roads during the winter before. I got this. You just sit and look pretty.”
We stop in Snowville, Utah, the first town just across the border from Idaho to Utah, to refill and obtain the life-giving substance most know as coffee. This leg of the trip was my turn to drive. I was to bring us the rest of the way home. With a final warning from my buddy and a slight sarcastic chuckle from me, we get back on the road.
Five minutes after settling in for our last four-hour trip home, we ascend a hill with both sides, as well as the road, clear of any snow or ice. The speed limit is 80 mph, but because it was night, I slowed down to between 65 and 70.
As we crest the hill, it looks like more of the same, no snow and no ice. But then I see it as my lights reflect off of a giant sheet of ice covering the freeway, from white line to white line. Again I was a “seasoned” Utah snow driver, I wasn’t afraid.
I decide to let off the gas pedal to slow my acceleration. It was this act, this change in speed that sealed the fate of my beautiful truck. As the truck starts to decelerate, the tail end of the truck starts to sway, I try correcting and the sliding of the truck becomes greater.
Martin feels the truck lose control and starts reaching out for something to brace himself with, but finds nothing and grabs his phone, clutching it to his chest.
As the truck slides on the ice doing a full 180 degree turn, it propels us backwards down the road and toward the median. I decide to accept death and start to chuckle a bit and enjoy the ride. Martin has not come to my conclusion and still clutches his phone for sweet life.
The truck slides into the median. The tires dig into the dirt and the truck tips over rolling a full time and a quarter, landing on the passenger side. I felt the seat belts tighten and lock as we roll. The passenger side of the cab of the truck collapses in slightly as the weight of the truck bears down on it.
As the truck comes to a stop, and both Martin and I dangle from the seat belts, I hear my passenger say, “awe, my Skittles…”
The gravity of the situation sinks in and I frantically shout, “are you okay? I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”
“Yeah dude, I’m good,” Martin replies. As my worry for myself and my buddy subsides, a feeling of excitement overcomes me and I start to giggle quietly at first, then louder and louder. I hear Martin start to laugh as well. “That was fun wasn’t it?” I ask.
“Yeah, it was,” he replies. I decided to roll down my window and climb out of the truck. I go to unlatch my seat belt and hear Martin quietly saying, “please don’t fall on me.” I chuckle and unbuckle my belt and climb out of the truck. Letting my feet dangle off the side of the truck, I help Martin out and we both sit there and laugh.
Upon viewing the wreckage, I noticed that with the amount of times the truck rolled and the speed at which it rolled, had we not been wearing our seat belts we would have been seriously injured. I walked away laughing from a major wreck because of the protection of the seat belt. Although I have always worn my seat belt, I will continue to always do so and strongly insist others wear theirs whenever they ride with me as well, because you never miss an opportunity to talk about and observe safety.