When Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Aaron Davidson was dispatched to a rollover crash involving four teens on Aug. 22, he recalls thinking, "I hope they were wearing their seatbelts."

"All too often, that seatbelt is the difference between four people walking away from a crash, or law enforcement having to go to a family's house to tell loved ones that their child was seriously injured or killed in a crash," Davidson said Wednesday, Sept. 22, during an award ceremony.

The ceremony recognized the four teens – Colton Boechler, Joshua Swenson, Sarah Schreiner and Izaiah Hernandez, all of whom escaped the mishap uninjured. Swenson could not attend Wednesday's event, but he and the others were applauded at the ceremony for wearing their seatbelts on Aug. 22, likely saving their lives. Each teen accepted a Saved by the Belt Award from the Sheriff's Office; the awards were sponsored by Grand Forks CPA firm Brady Martz and Associates.

Boechler, who was driving the vehicle, said he didn't realize he should have let off the gas when he rounded a sharp corner. When the car hit gravel, it began fishtailing to the left. He tried to overcorrect, sending the vehicle rolling into the ditch.

When the car came to a stop on its roof, the four teens were suspended upside-down for about 20 seconds before moving, Hernandez recalled.

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Schreiner said she immediately realized the seatbelts had likely saved their lives.

"We were all upside down for a little bit, and then (Schreiner) got her door open," Boechler recalled. "(Swenson) got his window open, so I crawled from the driver's side to the passenger side and got out, made sure everyone was OK, and then went back in and got my phone."

Davidson said the only injuries the teens suffered were from crawling out of the vehicle after the crash, and not during the crash itself.

Hernandez always wears his seatbelt, he said, especially after a friend was killed in a similar rollover accident earlier this year.

"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "And the seatbelt can really change the results of incidents that can happen."

Kaitlin Atkinson, the Vision Zero Regional Coordinator with the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office, said vehicle crashes in the region have been on the rise since 2019, and in nearly every scenario, seatbelt use by far makes the biggest difference whether the crash includes fatalities.

"People like to think that airbags can save them, or those sorts of things," she said. "But the airbags aren't effective if you're not in your seat. There are some vehicles where the airbags won't go off if you're not buckled. So it just really is the best way to protect yourself."

Standing together after the ceremony, the three teens who were in attendance urged others to always use seatbelts.

"Stay safe," Schreiner said.