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Seat belts save lives...a first-hand account

Johannah Hayden, stands next to her SUV which rolled on its side during an accident. Hayden was wearing a seat belt, so she was not injured. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl

Johannah Hayden, has a message for anyone who drives -- buckle up.

"My mom used to tell us you will fly through the windshield if you don't have your seat belt on," said Hayden. At age 11, she nearly did just that, sitting in the backseat, when they were in an accident, Hayden ended up between her mom, who was a front seat passenger and the dash board.

"I am pretty sure I broke my mother's arm when I flew over the seat," said Hayden, a mother of two.

On June 15, Hayden, lost consciousness when driving home, south bound on Hwy. 35.

"When I came to, I tried to regain control but over-compensated," said Hayden. "I hit the ditch and the car flipped on its side."

Thankful once again for seat belts, Hayden escaped physically unharmed from the accident. She is still undergoing testing to determine what caused her to black out. Since then she has started to have seizures and no longer drives.

"I was by myself. Thank God, I was alone," said Hayden. "It was surreal. I was lying on my side and it seems like tons of people stopped to help. It was amazing -- they pulled me out and then went back to check the vehicle to make sure there was no one else inside."

According to the accident narrative recorded by the St. Croix County Sheriff's department, witness Matthew Gerlach who was working at Aves Studio at the time, heard a bunch of skidding. He looked toward the highway and saw a Blazer skidding southbound. It hit the west ditch and rolled over.

Gerlach had an employee call 911 while he ran to the scene. He got the driver out of the vehicle and made sure she wasn't visibly hurt.

According to Hayden, soon after the paramedics and police arrived she was transported to Hudson and transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

"I am just thankful my kids were not in the car," said Hayden. "Even my two-year-old knows it is the first thing you do when you get in the car, is to put on your seat belt."

"It is not work, it is a simple thing to do," said Hayden, who will stop the car if she discovers a passenger is not belted in.

Hayden and her finance, Lee Osbourne, moved from Oregon to Hudson in 2008 to be closer to family.

Even though Hayden has had a tough year, she sees the positive, even about her accident.

"It could have been much, much worse," said Hayden, who credits her lifelong seat belt habit with her leaving the accident scene uninjured. Now, Hayden hopes they can discover what is causing her health problems as well.