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June/July 2014 Smart, Safe & Sober Newsletter

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Saved by the Belt and Bag Awards

All across the Commonwealth, law enforcement agencies recognize individuals from young to old, even some in their own ranks, who were involved in a traffic crash and, because they were wearing a safety belt or were in a child safety restraint, their injuries were reduced or their lives were saved.

The Saved by the Belt & Bag Program is open to any law enforcement agency. Nominations for individuals who were involved in traffic crashes and were wearing safety restraint devices are being accepted on a continual basis. There is no cost to the nominating agency – all recognition materials are provided by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police through funding from a grant from the Virginia Highway Safety Office. To participate, download the nomination form.

The Saved by the Belt Awards Committee has been carefully reviewing nominations the past year for the Virginia Saved by the Belt & Bag Awards and have distributed awards recognizing 14 individuals – including two law enforcement officers – between April 1 and June 30, 2014. These individuals are here with us today because they made the lifesaving decision to buckle up:

Saved by the Belt Awards • April - June 2014

Survivor(s) Name

Nominating Agency

Leslie Begoon Curtin
Ms. Curtin was travelling westbound on Leesburg Pike in the left through lane. A vehicle in the left turn lane crossed over the solid white line to the right without noticing Ms. Curtin's vehicle. That vehicle's improper action caused Ms. Curtin's vehicle tostrike the passenger side front wheel-well. Ms. Curtin's vehicle was then lifted off the ground and proceeded to roll over onto its roof. After sliding several feet down the roadway, Ms. Curtin's vehicle came to a rest still upside down. Ms. Curtin had been wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. This kept her safely in place until she managed to crawl carefully out of the vehicle. As a result of this. she only suffered from minor soreness the following day. Had Ms. Curtin not been wearing her seatbelt, she likely could have been tossed about the vehicle as it rolled over or perhaps suffered a serious head injury had her head impacted the roof on the roll over.
Fairfax County Police Department

Michael Spillane and Evan Spillane
On November 1, 2013; Michael and Evan Spillane were traveling east bound on Walney Road past Ellanor C. Lawrence Historic Park. While traveling on the wet roadway, a large animal ran into the road and Mr. Spillane attempted an evasive maneuver causing the vehicle to strike a tree and travel down an embankment before coming to rest. The roof of Mr. Spillane's Nissan X-Terra caved in on top of Evan, who was properly secured in his car seat. With the proper use of his car seat, Evan escaped possibly fatal injuries. Mr. Spillane was properly utilizing his lap and shoulder belt and was also able to exit the vehicle with minor injuries.

Fairfax County Police Department
Kelli Barnhardt and Shane Barnhardt
Kelli and her son, Shane, were traveling north on Pinetta Rd in Glocester, VA when another vehicle pulled out in front of them at Enos Rd. They struck the other vehicle head on. Kelli was driving and Shane was in the passengerseat and neither one was injured because they were using their safety restraints.
Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office

Sun Cha Cho 
On 11/11/2013, Mrs. Sun Cho was driving Eastbound on Elden Street when a vehicle took a left turn in front of her causing a serious collision. Mrs. Cho was transported to the hospital, the injuries she sustained could have been much worse if she was not wearing her seatbelt. Mrs. Cho is still working on her recovery and said that she always wears her seatbelt. The driver of the other vehicle walked away from the collision only because she also was wearing her seatbelt. Both vehicles appeared to be totaled in the collision.

Herndon Police Department

Sonya Pierce-Wilson, Andrew Wilson, Dokota Wilson, Colin Wilson and Chole Wilson
On October 12, 2013 while proceeding West on Rt. 249 at 55 MPH a vehicle traveling South on Tunstall Rd. failed to stop at the stop sing. This vehicle entered the intersection at 55 MPH. This vehicle struck Vehicle 2 that was heading West causing that vehicle to strike Vehicle 3 that was waiting to turn onto Tunstall Rd. Vehicle 2 hit several signs and overturned into a field. All 5 from Vehicle 2 were transported to the hospital. Andrew Wilson had Serious Injures but would have been much worse had he not been restrained. Between all 3 vehicles 10 people were transported to the hospital. I feel based on the damage and impact from this crash all 5 are deserving of the Saved by the Belt and Bag Award.

New Kent County Sheriff’s Office

Lt. Barry Harrington and Chief Deputy Keith Dunagan
On December 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm, Lt. Barry Harrington and Chief Deputy Keith Dunagan of the Wythe County Sheriff's Office were travelling southbound on Route 21 in an unmarked patrol car when they came up behind a vehicle that was stopped in traffic attempting to make a left-hand turn. (Lt. Harrington was driving and Chief Deputy Dunagan was the passenger.)

While stopped and waiting for the vehicle ahead of them to turn, Harrington's patrol vehicle was struck from behind by a third vehicle. The impact knocked Harrington's vehicle into and underneath the back end of the turning vehicle. During the crash investigation, it was determined that the driver of the third vehicle was looking for an item on the floor of his vehicle and not paying attention to the stopped traffic ahead of him. That driver was charged with reckless driving.

After the crash, Lt. Harrington had to be extricated from his patrol vehicle. He was then airlifted from the scene to the nearest trauma center — Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Chief Deputy Dunagan was treated and released from Wythe County Community Hospital. Virginia State Police Trooper Greg Purvis investigated the accident and said that, because of the way the accident occurred, the air bags in the patrol car did not release, which contributed to the deputies’ injuries. The deputies were buckled up, however, so the injuries were minor.

Wythe County Sheriff’s Office

Nyliah Graham
My wife Kimberly Atkins swerved to miss a branch that had fallen across route sixty near the top of the mountain at the Rockbridge and Amherst county line. When she swerved to avoid the branch she hit black ice and a gust of wind took the car airborne. The Scion XB then went off the side of the mountain and rolled about one hundred and fifty feet straight down until it came to rest on its top and side. My granddaughter was secured in her car seat and when the car stopped she was suspended in mid air upside down. Officer Martin of the Buena Vista Police Department said that the car seat did it job perfect. My granddaughter did not receive any injuries except for bumps and bruises. Her mother had to be extricated and the Scion was totaled. I know that the car seat saved her life.

Virginia Department of Corrections


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