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Saved by the belt

Seat belts save lives.

It may be a strong statement that some disagree with, but one family from Garfield agrees with it wholeheartedly.

On June 9, Paul Amundson and his three children - Rieice, 7; Brennan, 6; and Quinn, 3 - were traveling south on County Road 6 near Leaf Valley when their car and a car traveling west on Mums Road crashed at the intersection.

The westbound car reportedly failed to stop at a stop sign and struck Amundson's vehicle, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office (DCSO).

"Due to the use of seat belts in this accident, severe injuries were prevented," noted a news release from the sheriff's office.

And because they were buckled up, Amundson and each of his three children received a "Saved by the Belt Award" at a presentation on Friday afternoon at the Law Enforcement Center.

Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen and Jeff Beck, a Douglas County deputy, presented the family with their framed "Saved by the Belt" certificates.

Crystal Hoepner with the Safe Communities Coalition also presented the family with a brand new booster seat.

"We are happy to give you these awards and the new car seat," Wolbersen told the family. "This could have been a much more serious accident."

Amundson said the crash was "pretty scary," and at the time it happened, it was confusing because he didn't realize what had happened.

"I was just trying to make sure the kids were alright," he said.

The children's mom, Ashley Hvezda, wasn't with when the crash occurred. She was on a work-related trip and had just landed in New Orleans when she received the news of the accident.

"It's the worst call a mother could ever receive," she said during the presentation.

Fortunately, Hvezda said her company flew her home right away to be with the kids.

Wearing seat belts, said Hvezda, is a "no brainer" for her family. Amundson agreed, saying, "We are always adamant about the kids buckling up."

Now that the accident is but a memory - albeit a bad memory - Amundson is thankful that it wasn't any worse than it was. His son had to stay overnight at the hospital and the rest of the family only had a few minor cuts and bruises.

"It was a pretty scary experience and now, I try not to think about it," said Amundson. "But if we wouldn't have been wearing our seat belts, it could have been a bad situation. We are thankful it wasn't."