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Wis. Teen Using Crash Survival Experience To Educate Others

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Cody Varney nearly died last March when the vehicle he was riding in rolled three times on a Wisconsin roadway. Now, he’s hoping to educate other teen drivers on the dangers behind the wheel.

For the last year, Varney’s life has been one of limitations. His body is still healing from a crash that caused critical injuries and sent him to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare for months.

“I had a broken tibia, femur, hip, four broken ribs, broken sternum and third degree burns,” said Varney, of Glenwood City, Wis.

His injuries were the result of a teen driver who took a turn too quickly while giving Varney, and his friend, Clarence Rogers, a ride home from school.

“Inexperience and speed is what it was,” said Varney.

As juniors in high school, both Varney and Rogers see bad driving habits all too often. They say prom season is especially bad.

“That’s about the time kids like to mess around in their cars and do stupid things,” said Clarence Rogers who was in the same crash as Varney.

“They’re still out speeding and reckless driving, still,” said Varney.

For that reason, the two have created a 20-minute video documenting Varney’s recovery.

Using the 911 call from the accident and interviews with the doctors and nurses who treated Cody, the two friends weaved together a message for young drivers.

“Young teens, when they come in after accident, think they’re invincible and they realize, quickly, they can suffer serious injuries,” said Dr. Mark Gormley of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

Varney thinks his first person perspective will connect with others his age. He hopes his survival story could save other lives.

“I don’t want them to go through that. I don’t want them to go through what I went through,” said Varney.

Varney plans to show the video to his fellow classmates and also plans on working with driver’s education instructors to get his message out.

His other message: wear a seatbelt. Varney admitted he never wore one, but he did on the day of the accident and believes it saved his life.

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