APPLE VALLEY (WCCO) — A 16-year-old girl is living proof that seat belts save lives. Gwen Nelson was driving to Eastview High School around 7:00 Tuesday morning, when she hit some slick ice that started a chain reaction, sending her SUV flying over the guardrail, where it was crushed 20 feet below.
But she was barely hurt because she was wearing a seatbelt.
“I don’t know if I screamed or not,” she said. “But I know I was scared and thinking ‘Is this actually happening?’”
Photos of her crushed Ford Explorer were evidence that it actually happened.
“I’m told that I crawled out by myself and got out with just a limp,” she said. “But I can’t remember it.”
It all happened because of an unlucky chain of events.
After hitting the patch of ice, she over-corrected and lost control. But instead of slamming into the guardrail, a snow bank actually worked as a ramp and launched her SUV up and over the concrete barrier, and onto Cedar Avenue — at least 20 feet below.
Still, she was saved by her seat belt.
“If I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, I would have just hit the windshield or something and just gotten crushed,” she said.
Instead, she not only survived, but was barely hurt. By the afternoon, she was back home nursing some bumps, bruises and a very stiff neck.
She was home with a mother, Nancy Kaysen, who’s thankful that her teenage girl always wears her seat belt.
“She’s going to be a little sore for a while,” said Kaysen. “But it’s amazing that she looks like my Gwen.”
Conditions were bad enough Tuesday morning that Kaysen was waiting for a text from Gwen saying she got to school.
Instead, she got a call from police.
WCCO-TV’s Frank Vascellaro Reports