Five people were killed Sunday in a tragic car crash 2 miles west of Yale in Payne County, OK, NewsOK reports. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that the driver was a 17-year-old male who was driving eastbound on State Highway 51 when his car went off the road, overcorrected, and went out of control. His car ended up hitting an oncoming pickup head-on. The driver, his mother, her toddler and 12-year-old daughter, and a 16-year-old not related to them were all killed.
The 20-year-old driver of the pickup was thrown from the vehicle and transported to a Tulsa hospital where he was released. Troopers said that his 14-year-old passenger was flown to a Tulsa hospital and stabilized.
The wreck closed State Highway 51 for more than four hours. According to a trooper involved in investigating the crash, only the 17-year-old driver and the toddler were restrained in the vehicle.
While tragic, the accident strongly emphasizes the need to buckle up. According to the National Safety Council, seatbelts can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent and saved more than 75,000 lives between 2004-2008. In 2007, 42 percent of passengers killed in car crashes were unbelted. Also, a 2009 survey estimated that 1,600 lives and 22,000 injuries could be prevented if seat belt use was 90% in every state.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.