The first thing I remember on that rainy Sunday afternoon was waking up in a hospital room next to my dad, in intense pain. I remember turning my head awkwardly in the neck brace I was in, trying to figure out what had happened. I looked over to see my dad laying in a hospital bed and heard him say to me, “Everything is going to be OK Jessica. We’ve been in a wreck. We’re going to be OK.”
I found out from my dad, and later state troopers and my family, that we had been hit on the passengers side, my side, of our truck on a highway out in Lamesa earlier that afternoon. I was asleep when it happened and don’t remember anything from the wreck. I only vaguely remember my clothes being cut off in the ambulance and waking up in a hospital room.
We were hit by a small car that ran a stop sign at an estimated 80 mph. The speed limit on the tiny two-lane road the driver was coming from was 45 mph. We were hit on my side so hard that it shifted the cab eight inches off the bed of the truck. My seatbelt tightened so hard on me that it had to be cut off, and left a perfect bruise where it had cinched me in. To get me out of the truck, the EMT’s had to cut the door of the truck off.
I walked away with only bruises, a laceration on my liver that never became a major problem, and a blood blister on my lung that never became a major complication either. No broken bones, no brain damage, no stitches. My dad had six broken ribs, but other than that he was fine. We were both released three days after the wreck and got to walk out of the hospital to go home — A luxury I know many involved in accidents like ours do not get to enjoy. The driver of the car was released the day before us with just a broken arm.
Besides wholeheartedly believing that for some reason the Lord had his hands and his angels protecting my dad and me that day, I think the reason we walked away practically unscathed is because we had our seatbelts on. If I hadn’t worn my seatbelt I would have ended up going through the window and splattering across the pavement.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over half of fatalities from motor vehicle crashes are due to people not using seatbelts. This astounds me because it’s second nature for me to put on my seatbelt. I know it’s not always “cool” to wear a seatbelt and people often think, “I’m only going a short distance.” Let me be your cautionary tale — I wore my seatbelt, and I’m still here to tell you this because of that choice.
Crashes can happen anywhere at any time. We never planned to get in that wreck. My dad never even saw the other car coming; he just felt the impact. I don’t remember any of the crash, but I will never forget the pain I was in or the worry of my family and friends. Wear your seatbelt. It’s simple as that.