Win State Award
A Greeneville grandmother's safety precautions have earned her a "Saved By The Belt" award from the Governor's Highway Safety Office.
The honor is related to an Aug. 8 rollover crash that resulted in very minor injuries to Patricia Mathes and no injuries to her three-year-old granddaughter, Sophie Mathes.
Mathes and her granddaughter accepted the governor's award Aug. 24 from Craig Fillers, assistant chief of the Greeneville Police Department.
Fillers, who nominated Mathes, said in a news release that he hopes others will follow her example of always wearing a seat belt when traveling in motor vehicles.
DETAILS OF CRASH
Mathes recalled that she was traveling toward town on the Asheville Highway when she swerved to try to miss a car that was exiting the Ingles parking lot.
Despite her evasive action, the other vehicle struck Mathes' car in the right rear area, according to the police report.
She had no time to think about how to react, she said.
The collision caused her car to spin around, strike a drainage tile, flip over, and land on its top, according to officers on the shift supervised by Capt. Mike Crum.
Before she knew exactly what had happened, Mathes found herself suspended upside-down for 15 minutes. During that time, she removed a small piece of glass from her hand, and she later found three small bruises on her arm.
"The Lord was with us in that car," she said with a smile.
Mathes also is appreciative of the help she received at the crash scene.
She expressed thanks to those who removed granddaughter Sophie from the car, brought her around where the two could see each other, and secured Sophie's car seat in the ambulance so the two could ride together to the hospsital.
The actions taken by Mathes before pulling out of the driveway were simple -- she made sure her granddaughter was secured in her car seat, and she put on her own seat belt.
"I always wear my seat belt, and she's always in a car seat," Mathes said.
Asked why she thinks it is important to wear her seat belt, she quickly answered, "to stay alive."
Fillers agreed, citing statistics from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
The statistics show that, as of Aug. 23, Tennessee reported 264 fatalities involving unrestrained passengers.
Fillers said he wonders how many of those 264 fatalities could have been saved if the individuals had been wearing seat belts.
He added that parents and grandparents should take a little extra time to make sure children are safe in their car seats.
"It doesn't take that long to make sure your child is safe," he said.
Fillers said a primary purpose of the "Saved by the Belt" award is "to reinforce the life-saving importance of occupant protection for individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes, and encourage others to use them."
For more information on the award, visit http://www.tntrafficsafety.org