LIMA — Kristie Hayhurst was returning from Kentucky to her Delphos home on June 8 when her vehicle left the roadway, flipped numerous times mid-air and struck a telephone pole. The 38-year-old woman and her young niece walked away from the accident mostly unscathed, thanks in no small part to the fact that both were wearing their seat belts.
For that reason, Hayhurst was recognized Thursday by officials at the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who presented her with the patrol’s “Saved by the Belt” award. According to post commander Lt. Timothy Grigsby, it was just the sixth such award presented statewide in the last three years. During that same time period, he said, there were “well over 150,000 traffic crashes” across the Buckeye State.
Grigsby said the reason for the award is two-fold; to recognize individuals who follow the law and buckle up before driving “and as an educational tool to say ‘here’s what happens’ when you wear your seat belt.”
Hayhurst, a Kentucky native, was returning to her new Ohio home on June 8 with her 10-year-old niece. They were traveling down state Route 66 near Spencerville when the vehicle she was driving inexplicably left the pavement.
“I really don’t remember what happened,” the woman said Thursday. “I guess only God knows what happened that day. I kind of blacked out. I think I woke up on about the car’s fifth flip … about the time we hit the telephone pole.”
Hayhurst and her niece miraculously walked away from the crash with relatively minor injuries. And while five broken ribs, surgery to stop internal bleeding and the repair of her spine may sound anything but minor, Hayhurst said she is grateful that fastening her seat belt is second-habit.
“It’s like getting dressed each day. I’ve been wearing my seat belt faithfully since I was 16. Safety belts save lives, and I’m living proof of that,” she said.