Wyoming Department of Transportation

Riverton family: Seatbelt Survivors

Date: 03/30/2011 


Jeff, Michelle, Taylor, Ian and Sam McMenamy are seatbelt survivors.

The Riverton family was involved in a one-vehicle rollover crash in the early-morning hours of Dec. 23, 2010, on Wyoming Highway 50 near Gillette.   

Thanks to their good decision to wear seatbelts, they all survived.   

Bound for Minnesota and a Christmas vacation, the McMenamys left Riverton on the evening of Dec. 23 after hockey practice. Jeff remembers being tired while driving and encountering patches of black ice as the family passed Casper, and Michelle then took her turn behind the wheel.   

“I got behind the wheel, left Edgerton, turned left on Highway 50 a short while later, and drove about 10 miles on Highway 50 when I hit black ice at about 60 mph,” Michelle remembers.   

It was about 1:45 a.m. Dec. 23 when the 2008 Ford Excursion slid on the ice, left the road, rolled 1 ½ times and hit a tree.   

The McMenamy’s daughter, Taylor, and the unbuckled family dog, Atlantic, were ejected from the vehicle.

“Taylor had removed her shoulder belt and had loosened her lap belt so she could sleep,” Michelle remembers. “When we found her, she was unconscious and her head and face were scraped. After a while, she started talking. She had many scrapes, cuts and bruises.”

The family’s dog suffered a dislocated hip.

“If Taylor’s seatbelt would have been across her shoulder and snug across her lap, she wouldn’t have been injured,” Jeff says. “The only other injury from the crash was cuts to the back of my head.”

The passenger side of the vehicle suffered the most damage, and the buckled seatbelt protected Jeff from other injuries in the crash. Properly buckled up, he had room to live.

The crash canceled the family’s vacation, but they received an early Christmas present with their health.

The family is alive and well today thanks to their collective decision to buckle their seatbelts. With the exception of Taylor, the vehicle's seatbelts kept them in place in their seats where there is room to live in a crash.

"Everything else inside the vehicle was thrown everywhere, including outside the vehicle," Jeff says. "We were buckled in and survived. Please buckle up. We survived because of seatbelts.”

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