Four motorists given ‘Saved by the Belt’ awards

Celebrating seatbelt usage are, from left, Brandon Barnes, officer Jeff Parsons, Kent Hudson, Chief Ken Burge, Mary Rogers, Capt. Dale Boring, Stanley McClain and Sgt. Keith Fletcher.

Celebrating seatbelt usage are, from left, Brandon Barnes, officer Jeff Parsons, Kent Hudson, Chief Ken Burge, Mary Rogers, Capt. Dale Boring, Stanley McClain and Sgt. Keith Fletcher.

Four motorists who were involved in motor vehicle crashes this year in Alcoa were recognized for wearing seatbelts.

The brief ceremony was held Tuesday evening, Dec. 14, in the Alcoa City Courtroom at the Police and Fire Services Center. Chief Ken Burge led the meeting.

Burge said the individuals were being recognized as part of a program sponsored by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. “Your names were submitted as those, ‘Saved by the Belt,’” said Burge. “I am amazed on a daily basis, in this day and age, that we still write tickets for not wearing seatbelts. We want to recognize people who took the time to wear seatbelts. It is important during this holiday season that everyone ‘arrive alive.’ “

Recognized for wearing seatbelts were Kent Hudson of Maryville, Brandon Barnes of White Pine, Mary Rogers and Stanley McClain.

Hudson said he was driving on Alcoa Highway a week before Thanksgiving when someone pulled out in front of him near the Green Acres Flea Market. “I had 40 feet and hit him going 50 mph. It was a T-bone wreck and totaled both mine and his cars,” Hudson said. “I was fortunate. I had never had an airbag go off, but I’m a believer in airbags now.”

Barnes said he was driving on Alcoa Highway when two elderly women in a car pulled out in front of him at Topside Road. “I hit them, and it killed them. I made it through with a messed up shoulder, but other than that I walked away,” he said. “That seatbelt saved my life.”

McClain and Rogers were riding eastbound together on Pellissippi Parkway around 12 a.m. on Feb. 18 when a oncoming westbound vehicle crossed the median and hit them head on. “She had no headlights,” McClain said. “We flipped onto our passenger side and slid 100 yards.”

“I could feel the seatbelt holding,” Rogers said. “We were just hanging in the air.”

As part of the department’s efforts to keep motorists safe this holiday season, the APD is encouraging people to, “Buckle Up, Santa and Alcoa police officers are watching.” The campaign is to encourage motorists to wear seatbelts at all times when traveling in a motor vehicle.

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