LaPlace couple learns the hard way the value of wearing a seatbelt

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By David Vitrano

NEW ORLEANS – What began as a simple trip to a restaurant turned into a nightmare for LaPlace couple Norman and Susan Ross. Luckily, they were both wearing seatbelts that day, so this particular story has a happy ending.
On May 22, the Rosses were heading down Louisiana Highway 22 in Ascension Parish on their way to a banquet in their daughter’s Toyota Corolla. As rain fell in the early evening hours, a Chevrolet Avalanche approached from the other direction, and it did not take long before the Rosses knew something was not right.
Noting the erratic movements of the approaching truck, Susan Ross said, “I knew he was going to hit us, but there was nothing we could do.”
“It happened so fast I couldn’t even hit the brakes,” Norman Ross added.
Before they knew it, the truck struck the Toyota and sent it skidding off the wet roadway and into a ditch. Norman Ross said the event was so disorienting, he thought the car had actually rolled over.
Although the couple thinks they blacked out momentarily after the Corolla’s airbags deployed, they were both able to climb from the wreckage relatively unscathed.
“I was having chest pains,” said Susan Ross, “but it was from the seatbelt.”
The couple was taken to Baton Rouge General Hospital, but bruises, aches and pains were the only injuries they sustained in the accident. Their daughter’s car, however, was not so lucky.
“It was totaled,” said Susan Ross.
Last week, the LaPlace couple was honored by Louisiana State Police and the Interim LSU Hospital for the responsible decision they made that day to wear their seatbelts — a decision that likely spared them major injury or death. At the Regional Transportation Management Center in New Orleans, Norman and Susan Ross received a “Saved By the Belt” award to much fanfare and even television news crews. The awards are an effort to raise public awareness about the importance of wearing seatbelts every time one gets in a vehicle.
It is a lesson Norman Ross and Susan Ross, who confessed to not being a habitual seatbelt wearer before the accident, will likely never forget.