Crash survivor shares experience, urges others to buckle up

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A man who survived a serious car accident thanks to a reminder note from his wife to wear his seat belt is making stops at schools alongside her to share their story as a reminder of why seat belts are important.

Before his wife, Alyson, placed the photo of herself and the couple’s 5-year-old in his car, Michael Simkins hardly wore his seat belt, the Deseret News reported .

The photo, surrounded by doodled hearts, came with a message asking Michael Simkins to buckle up for their sake.

Although his car was wrecked Sept. 28 in a large, multicar pile up on Interstate 15, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper managed to recover the photo and returned it to Michael Simkins while he was in the hospital.

The trooper told Alyson Simkins that had he not been wearing the seat belt, her husband might have gone through the windshield.

Thinking of what could have happened if he hadn’t followed his wife’s advice that day brought tears to his eyes.

“Ever since then I have always worn my seat belt because I knew it was important to my family. I almost died that day,” Michael Simkins said.

The couple shared their experience with a group of fifth-graders at James E. Moss Elementary School on Tuesday as part of a preview for the “Click It or Ticket” campaign by the Utah Highway Patrol.

After hearing Simkins’ story, Alyson Simkins took photos of the students.

Each wrote a message for a loved one on their images, similar to note she wrote to her husband, reminding them to buckle up.

“We thought it was a really good idea and good way to remind people to wear their seat belts, to show them their loved ones right in front of their face and tell them, ‘Wear your seat belt for me.’ What other reason would you need?” Alyson Simkins said.

Nearly 3,500 crashes have occurred each year during the Thanksgiving weekend for the past five years, Utah Highway Patrol Maj. Mark Zesiger said.

During the department’s campaign, which started Saturday and will run through the Thanksgiving weekend, 300 troopers will be working overtime to remind drivers to buckle up and stay safe while drivers are travelling home for the holiday.

“We write tickets. But it’s more to educate,” Zesiger said. “It’s to make contact with that person, hopefully educate them and reinforce the message about that love and their safety, to make sure they’re getting home to their family.”

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