Close call a reminder for seat belt safety

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017

In regards to children, even the very things meant to keep them safe can pose dangers if proper precautions are not taken.

A Clark County mother is now advocating for seat belt safety awareness after a scary experience last week.

On Sept. 13, Mary Esarey was dropping her 8-year-old son, Ryan, off at Shearer Elementary School when he accidentally became entangled in another seat belt in the back seat of her vehicle.

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Esarey stopped the car to assist her son, but when she applied her brakes the belt locked up.

She was understandably frightened, and thankfully was able to get her fingers between the seat belt and Ryan’s neck to allow him to breathe.

Two Shearer teachers, Collin Berner and JP Kennedy came to the rescue. While Berner ran to find scissors, Kennedy was able to use the tip of a key to activate an emergency release switch to unlock the seat belt and free Ryan.

Ryan was shaken up but didn’t sustain any major injuries, and his mom counts the family as lucky.

Wearing seat belts is a very easy way to protect passengers in vehicles that involved in accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 22,441 passenger vehicle occupants died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015. More than half (52 to 59 percent) of teens (13-19 years) and adults aged 20-44 years who died in crashes in 2015 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

However, this incident sheds light on the fact that we need to spread more awareness about other safety information involving seat belts.

Families should keep seat belt cutters, or at the very least a pair of scissors, in the glove box or other storage compartment of vehicles for instances when seat belts lock up or a child becomes entangled.

According to, a child within reach of a seat belt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around his or her head, neck or waist — much like Ryan’s case. The majority of seat belts have a locking mechanism that is activated when the seat belt is pulled all the way out from the retractor. also offers these safety tips regarding seat belts:

— Do not let children play in or around cars.

— Never leave a child unattended in or around a vehicle.

— Always ensure children are properly restrained.

— Teach children that seat belts are not toys.

— Be aware that some seat belts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out.

— If a child has an unused seat belt within reach: Buckle unused seat belts. Pull the seat belt out all the way to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.

We are glad Ryan was able to be saved from serious injury and hope that these tips and the awareness spread by his mother can help other children avoid serious injury or death.