SEAT BELTS DO SAVE LIVES

PHS student teacher and husband OK after wreck in the Big Horns

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Lauren DeWitz

More stories from Lauren DeWitz

TALKING UP A STORM
January 24, 2020
Student teacher Mrs. Kaitlin Loeffen and her husband Tucker Loeffen’s truck after rolling off of the highway.

Photo courtesy: Kaitlin Loeffen

Student teacher Mrs. Kaitlin Loeffen and her husband Tucker Loeffen’s truck after rolling off of the highway.

Seat belts save lives. It is that simple.

Just ask Mrs. Kaitlin Loeffen, who this semester is working as science teacher Mrs. Wendy Smith’s student teacher .

She recently was involved in a car wreck up in the Big Horn Mountains with her husband, Tucker Loeffen. Their crash didn’t hurt them badly because they were wearing their seat belts.

“I was coming out of Gillette and the speed limit is 80 … so I took my speed control off and I went down to like 60, 65 and we went over some ice and it wasn’t a big problem,” Mrs. Loeffen said. “But on one of the turns, we hit the ice and my back end of my pick-up went into the left lane.

“… Then I was concerned about going into the median so I know I steered somewhat to the right just to ensure that if I went off, I would go to the right, and then I caught dry pavement and it kind of shot us off into the right and then we hit … a reflective pole and when we were going into the ditch …. that’s probably what flipped us, but we did roll over.”

Two young men stopped and helped the married couple out of their now damaged vehicle. As they were hanging by their seat belts upside down in the truck, Mrs. Loeffen realized this was a blessing.

If we were not wearing our seat belts … likely we would’ve either ended up in the dash with the broken windshield or we would’ve been ejected from the vehicle.”

— Mrs. Kaitlin Loeffen, PHS student teacher

“Since we flipped over, the top of the vehicle was crunched in and the windshield was pushed all the way in,” Mrs. Loeffen said. “If we were not wearing our seat belts – we were both hanging from them [be]cause when a vehicle is upside down and you have nothing holding you down and in your seat – likely we would’ve either ended up in the dash with the broken windshield or we would’ve been ejected from the vehicle.”

This was a terrifying situation for the young couple, even if they didn’t endure much physical pain – and Mrs. Loeffen knows it could’ve been a different situation.

“The biggest thing is seat belts – but then if the weather is poor make sure they’re not using their speed control,” Mrs. Loeffen said. “We were able to tell that I didn’t have it on because if you have your speed control on, then your vehicle will continue to run and the tires will continue to spin.

“… so when we were flipped upside down you could tell we had stopped, but with their speed control it’s harder to maneuver ice and then just slow down.”

Added Mrs. Loeffen: “So wear seat belts, slow down and just be cautious of your surroundings.”