Saved by the Belt: How a simple decision saved two lives

Photograph provided by the Louisiana State Police.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 2:30pm

When you look at the photograph, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have walked away from the crash. But a woman and her 12-year-old son did just that and it was the simple decision to fasten seat belts that made it possible.

On May 6, 2012 at approximately 8:50 a.m., Dorothy Compton and her son, Patrick Dennies, 12, were traveling on I-310 north in the left lane in a 2010 Ford Mustang. An 18-wheeler was traveling in the right lane and began to merge into the left lane. It struck the Mustang causing it to hit the crash attenuator and both vehicles then slid north on the I-10 west exit ramp. The 18-wheeler then impacted the left guardrail causing it to slide to the right and it hit the Mustang a second time.

The Mustang came to rest on its right side on the shoulder of the road against the guard rail. Dorothy Compton was trapped inside the vehicle and required immediate extrication using the Jaws of Life. Patrick Dennies was able to unbuckle himself and climb through the rear windshield to escape the vehicle.
Both Compton and Dennies were restrained during the crash it saved their lives. On Wednesday, March 20, the Louisiana State Police and the Interim LSU Public Hospital will present the two with the “Saved by the Belt” Award on behalf of the New Orleans Regional Traffic Safety Coalition.

Officials hope presenting this award and sharing their story will help others understand the importance of buckling up. Motor vehicle crashes are the single greatest cause of death and disability for people between the ages of 1-34. It is the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people of all ages.


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