Kasey Johnsrud is proof that it doesn't hurt to wear a seat belt.
The 19-year-old Garrison man was driving west on Highway 18 Wednes-day when he lost control of his vehicle, crashed through a guardrail on the south side of the highway and rolled the vehicle down a 20-foot embankment.
His Dodge four-door, which had massive front-end damage, came to rest in a stand of trees about 50 feet from the highway.
Considering the violence of the crash, Johnsrud's injuries could've been serious but weren't, said State Patrol Trooper Eric Sundgaard. Sundgaard responded to the crash and said because Johnsrud was wearing his seat belt and his airbag deployed he probably avoided more serious injuries.
The airbag and seat belt saved him a lot of problems, said Sundgaard. Johnsrud was transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd, where today he was reported in good condition.
Without a seat belt, Johnsrud probably would've collided with the windshield when his car hit the guardrail, Sundgaard said. He also might have been ejected out of the vehicle when his car rolled down the embankment.
"There's a lot he could've hit with his body (outside of the vehicle)," said Sundgaard. "Even just getting thrown around in the vehicle can cause a lot of damage."
Sundgaard compares seat belt use to gambling, in which the odds of avoiding serious injury or death are about 98-99 percent in favor of a motorist when a seat belt is used. "If you're a gambler, what odds are you going to take?" he asked.
Of the 460 motor vehicle occupants who died on Minnesota roads in 2001, nearly 300 of them were not wearing seat belts, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety reported.
In the Brainerd District of the State Patrol, which covers Crow Wing, Cass, Aitkin, Morrison, Mille Lacs, Hubbard and Kanabec counties, there were 59 traffic deaths in 2001. In 35 of the 59 deaths, a seat belt was not used, said Curt Mowers, Brainerd State Patrol safety education trooper.
"A majority of traffic fatalities are because (motorists) were not wearing their seat belts," said Mowers.
In Minnesota, seat belt use is at 74 percent, the Department of Public Safety reported.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.