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Saved By The Belt

Proper Seatbelt Use Saves Dad, Son

— A local father and son received the police Saved by the Belt award at the May 14 meeting of the Sully District Station’s Citizens Advisory Committee. They are Michael Spillane and his now 3-year-old, Evan.

Police Officer Sheila Ayers responded to their car accident and submitted the details of the crash to the Saved by the Belt award committee for consideration. It involved a slick road and an animal that suddenly appeared in the roadway.

The incident occurred Nov. 1, 2013, around 11 a.m. With his then 2-year-old son safely belted into his car seat, Spillane was driving his Nissan X-Terra east on Walney Road past Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. The roadway was wet, but all was well until an animal ran into the road and Spillane swerved to avoid hitting it. However, in so doing, the vehicle struck a tree and plunged down an embankment before it coming to rest.

“As I came over a hill on Walney, I thought I saw a dog — it turned out to be a woodchuck — and my vehicle fishtailed on the road,” said Spillane. “It struck an oak tree, rolled down an embankment and ended up in a drainage ditch.”

The roof of the SUV caved in on top of Evan, who was properly secured in his car seat. “With the proper use of his car seat, Evan escaped possibly fatal injuries,” wrote Ayers. “Spillane was properly using his lap and shoulder belt and was also able to escape with minor injuries.”

As he gave the Saved by the Belt award to Spillane, Capt. Ed O’Carroll, commander of the Sully District Station, said, “We’re very proud of this family. And I present this award in partnership with the Virginia Assn. of Chiefs of Police. That was a horrific crash and we’re grateful that he and Evan walked away.”