Two Minot Airmen survive vehicle accident

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE N.D. -- Staff Sgt. Jennifer Farley, 5th Munitions Squadron,  was driving this sport utility vehicle  when a vehicle mishap caused it to roll about two-and-a-half times before resting upside-down. The mishap resulted in only injuries, but according to officials, it could have been fatal if seat belts not been used. (courtesy photo)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE N.D. -- Staff Sgt. Jennifer Farley, 5th Munitions Squadron, was driving this sport utility vehicle when a vehicle mishap caused it to roll about two-and-a-half times before resting upside-down. The mishap resulted in only injuries, but according to officials, it could have been fatal if seat belts not been used. (courtesy photo)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Two non-commissioned officers survived a severe vehicle accident traveling back from a summer vacation Aug. 13. 

The mishap resulted in only injuries, but, according to officials, it could have resulted in death if seat belts had not been used. 

The two individuals were returning to Minot from Sturgis S.D., after a family gathering during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The driver was operating a late-model sport utility vehicle and pulling a pop-up camper on a two-lane highway at night in the rain complete with typical North Dakota winds. 

Near the North Dakota border, a truck pulling a 40-foot flat-bed trailer began to pass the Airmen at a high rate of speed. As the truck was passing, its trailer hit the SUV. The driver momentarily lost control, then the SUV's fender became attached to the truck and dragged it until it finally broke free and began to roll. The SUV and camper rolled about two-and-a-half times before resting upside-down. The truck, which caused the mishap, continued down the road. 

It took the driver but a few minutes to free herself and get out of the vehicle. Passers-by stopped for assistance almost instantly. The passenger was trapped in the vehicle for about an hour before a state trooper arrived and was able to aid in pulling the passenger free. 

"My seatbelt saved my life," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Farley, 5th Munitions Squadron and driver of the vehicle. "I never thought that something like this could happen to me, but now I know that it can happen to anyone and I thank God that I was prepared." 

Wearing your seatbelt is being prepared for the worst, said Staff Sgt. William Staffey, 5th Maintenance Operations Squadron and passenger of the vehicle. 

"Putting on a seatbelt now is a little different than before the accident," he said. According to both Airmen, they hope that by hearing this story people will realize how important it is to wear a seatbelt. 

According to Rod Krause, 5th Bomb Wing Ground Safety manager, the first question that ran through his head after seeing the twisted metal of the truck and camper was, how did they manage to get out of this accident with only broken bones and bruises, instead of death? 

"Without a doubt, seat belts were worn," he said. "And, without a doubt, if they were not worn, both Airmen would definitely have received more serious injuries and could've possibly been killed." 

"We wouldn't be here today if we hadn't worn our seatbelts," said Sergeant Farley.
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