Burton firefighters, crash victim visit high school to promote seat belt safety

Burton firefighters, crash victim visit high school to promote seat belt safety

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The Burton Fire Department is trying to teach new drivers the most important tool to save their lives in a crash: their seat belt.

They’ve had several car crashes in Beaufort County in the last week.

“Remember that bad things happen every day, and they can happen to you," said motivational speaker, Kelli Burke.

Burton Fire visited Whale Branch High School Wednesday with a clear message.

“So I hope you make good choices, but wear that seat belt,” Burton Fire Captain Dan Byrne said.

The fire department and EMS for Beaufort County had a guest with them. A young woman who graduated from Battery Creek High School who is now paralyzed from the waist down after being thrown out of a car during a wreck.

“They are the same age that I was when I had my accident, so that’s the biggest group I want to reach with my story," Kelli Burke said.

She says she hopes they can learn a lesson from her accident.

“Put your seat belt on because it’s not going to just change your life. It’s going to affect everyone; your loved ones, your family, your friends," Burke said.

Burke’s story gives the course a real, emotional impact, but the program also teaches new drivers what they need to know before they hit the road.

One of the main lessons in the course is not just teaching kids to wear their seat belt, but also how to wear their seat belt. They say it should be low and tight across your waist and come up over at your collarbone, not your neck or shoulder.

The fire department and EMS says after seeing three violent wrecks last week, this lesson has important timing.

“In the past week, we’ve seen multiple vehicle accidents with ejections from people not wearing seat belts; sustaining very serious injuries that could have been avoided,” said Beaufort County paramedic Derrick Hammond.

Capt. Byrne told the kids that statistically, in the next few years, he will see three or four of them out on a scene. He just hopes they will be the ones who are buckled up.

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