WATCH: Mom shares story of near deadly crash to remind people to buckle up
GRAND FORKS — Cassie Lowney's Honda Pilot looked like a mangled mess last April after she and her family were hit head on by a driver high on meth, who had also just plowed a police car off the road into a light pole.
Miraculously, she and her two kids walked away with just cuts and bruises.
Now, she wants people to see that image so it reminds them to buckle up. She's using her near-death experience to raise awareness about seat belts, and sharing her family's story with the hope of preventing tragedy for others.
Lowney is sharing her family's story as one of the first recipients of the Saved by the Belt award, a new initiative at the Grand Forks Police Department.
"Wearing their seat belts saved their lives," said Officer Vanessa Richter with GFPD.
"You have to be a defensive driver these days, most people don't think they need their seat belt until it's too late," explained Richter, who recently received an award for introducing the initiative.
The evening Lowney got into the crash, she had just traveled a few blocks to pickup her 7-year-old son from taekwondo lessons.
"It was just an ordinary night, we were talking about dinner," she recalled.
"As soon as I saw the police officer go into the pole I started to pull over," Lowney said, "Had I been on my phone or changing the radio station ... I would not have slowed down and it could have been worse."
A handful of people have received Officer Richter's Saved by the Belt award, and while each receives a certificate, Richter said the real award is still being alive.