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FARMINGTON — Shantel Anderson taught her kids the importance of wearing a seat belt, but on June 21, her 8-year-old son Dallin was the one reminding her to buckle up, possibly saving her life.
Anderson was driving north on I-15 through Kaysville on June 21 when a Toyota Avalon lost control and crossed the entire freeway, getting struck broadside by a semitruck before spinning into her lane and into her pickup truck.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street, a first responder at the scene of the crash, said wearing seat belts saved Anderson, her three children and the woman driving the smaller car from serious injury or death.
The impact from being hit by a semitruck is often deadly, Street said, and at one point doctors didn't expect the driver of the Avalon to survive. He added that the woman was having a "medical episode" when she lost control, and to his understanding she has recovered.
"We all think we're good drivers, and that's just fine, and we can continue to think that," Street said. "But what we need to do is make sure that we always have that seat belt on — no matter how well you think you can drive. Because ultimately, a situation just like this can occur right in front of you."
We all think we're good drivers, and that's just fine, and we can continue to think that. But what we need to do is make sure that we always have that seat belt on — no matter how well you think you can drive.
–Sgt. Nick Street, Utah Highway Patrol
The Utah Highway Patrol had Anderson share her story at a small event at its Farmington office kicking off an initiative to enforce seat belt violations through the Thanksgiving weekend.
"Last year, we saw a little bit of a spike in fatalities over Thanksgiving weekend. We do not want to see that again," Street said.
Troopers will focus on seat belt violations leading up to and throughout Thanksgiving weekend, with more than 275 shifts dedicated to looking for unbuckled drivers.
The Utah Highway Patrol chose Anderson's story as an example partly because she was lucky she buckled up that day.
"I usually do not wear my seat belt. My son (Dallin) had argued with me that day to put it on because I made all them put theirs on," Anderson said. "By the time I got to the freeway, he begged me enough that I had put my buckle on, and I'm glad he did that."
Street added that even though being in a truck helped prevent Anderson and her kids from being hurt, without a seat belt on she could have gone through the windshield.
Although she finds it uncomfortable, Anderson said she wears her seat belt much more after the accident. Dallin said the same.
"Try to put it on a little more," Dallin advises kids and adults on the road. "You can get hurt or, like, pass away if you get in a bad crash."