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Officers, accident victim remind travelers to buckle up

James Tadman of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and other local and regional law officials gather at the East Grand Forks City Hall to discuss the "Click It or Ticket" campaign to get drivers to buckle up this Memorial Day weekend. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Screaming was all Jan Stricker heard when she answered a phone call from her daughter this past October.

“I cry every time I think about it,” she said, wiping a tear.

Jesse Sticker, 19, doesn’t remember calling her mom. She doesn’t recall much after another vehicle ran a red light and struck her car at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Minnesota Highway 220 in East Grand Forks.

“It’s all just bits and pieces,” she said of the accident, which left her with a fractured pelvis, a broken back and hip and a large bruise from the seat belt that saved her life.

After months of “sleep, morphine and therapy,” Jesse Sticker stood in high heels Wednesday as she received a “Saved by the Belt” award from East Grand Forks Police Chief Mike Hedlund.

Sticker’s award was part of a kickoff event for North Dakota and Minnesota’s “Click It or Ticket” campaigns, which aim to have more people buckle up.

Holiday weekend

As part of the campaigns, officers from the state highway patrols, sheriffs’ and police departments will be stepping up seat belt enforcement.

The kickoff comes before Memorial Day weekend — one of the busiest driving weekends — and the start of the summer driving season.

“We have a lot of lakes in our county, and with Memorial weekend coming, more people are going to be out at their cabins,” Polk County Sheriff Barb Erdman said. “We have a lot of roadways out there that are winding, so wearing a seat belt is critical.”

The enforcement increase is part of a national effort to convince more people to wear a seat belt. Nationwide, observed seat belt use increased from 82 percent in 2005 to 86 percent in 2012.

Officers credit campaigns such as “Click It or Ticket” for helping increase that percentage.

Seat belt use surveys conducted in 2012 by state transportation departments report observed use in North Dakota is 81 percent and 94 percent in Minnesota.

Wednesday’s press conference was the first time Stricker has spoken publicly about her accident.

She says she still hasn’t looked at pictures from the accident.

“I’m afraid I’ll remember something,” Stricker said. A student at UND, Stricker was able to finish her semester from the hospital with the help of her mom, brother Colton and boyfriend Jesse Boushee.