The simple act of wearing a seatbelt saved a Peachtree City man’s life earlier this year when he fell unconscious while driving on Peachtree Parkway.
Thana M. Alusi was presented the “Saved By the Belt” award from the police department and city council at Thursday’s council meeting.
Earlier this year and just after 4 p.m., Alusi was driving south on the parkway near North Cove when he suffered a medical problem, causing his car to strike a large tree on the opposite side of the road.
The collision was so violent that it pushed the accelerator and brake pedals to the point where they were nearly touching the driver’s seat, Mayor Don Haddix noted.
Alusi noted that when Ronald Reagan was running for President in the early 80s, the candidate would promote seat belt usage, reminding the public that most accidents happen within two miles of one’s home.
“I thank God that I am here tonight and with you guys,” Alusi said after receiving the award.
Alusi said his son at one and two years of age was a challenge to keep in his seat while traveling.
“He would cry, he would scream, he would throw his clothes, his shoes,” Alusi said, drawing laughter from the audience. “But he kept that seat belt on. And that became a family focus for us.”
“This is a perfect example: I would absolutely not be here. The only thing that was on my body after I walked out was a burn mark on my body from the seatbelt. Nothing else. Thank you everybody so much. The fire department, the police department … I can’t say thank you enough for saving my life.”
Had Alusi not worn his seat belt that day, he likely would have been ejected from the car, said police Sgt. Brad Williams. Ejected is law enforcement lingo for a driver or passenger who is thrown through the windshield or window in an extremely violent collision.
“This could happen to anybody. He had no medical history that might make him think he would black out while driving, but yet it happened,” Williams said. “… Seatbelts save lives. They save lives every day. But there are still a lot of people in the world who don’t wear seatbelts. Just remember: day or night, wear your seatbelts.”
Haddix shared that nearly 40 years ago he was overseas and got in a bad accident that pushed the steering wheel into his chest. He did not have a seatbelt, and as a result of the crash he spent 17 months in the hospital.
“That seatbelt would have allowed me to walk away from that accident,” Haddix said. “Folks, wear your seatbelts. You won’t regret it. Because if you don’t, and you’re injured severely, it’s with you the rest of your life.”