TRURO, N.S. – It’s a story that could have ended much differently.
An oncoming motorist veered into his lane and hit the driver’s side of Jacob Michelin’s Mazda, sending it careening into a ditch and flipping over.
“We didn’t really feel that much, as soon as the airbags went off it was just a lot of noise,” Jacob said. “I didn’t really see much, so once we stopped upside-down in the car, that’s when I clued in to what was going on.”
The Belmont native was driving down Crowes Mills Road northwest of Truro Aug. 7, taking his father Reginald to the airport. It’s a trip he’d made many times.
Nine days later, no worse for wear, Jacob stood alongside RCMP officers at MacKenzie’s Towing and Service Centre in Truro, to issue a stark reminder to other drivers and passengers: buckle up.
Michelin’s vehicle was a write-off, its windshield smashed, and the driver’s door mangled. A gaping hole was left by the collision and the front bumper was ripped off.
Wearing a seatbelt meant Michelin only received a small cut on his nose from broken glass; his father skinned an elbow and injured his thumbnail. Both managed to climb out of a rear passenger door.
Jacob wants others to learn from his experience.
“Always put it on. It doesn’t matter how far you’re going; we were on a trip I’ve done a dozen times to take my father to the airport down that road. Out of five seconds, it completely changed my day and I could have very easily not walked away from this.”
Michelin’s warning comes at a time when road deaths in Nova Scotia are poised to rise for the first time in more than six years. The toll has exceeded 40 deaths on the roads so far this year, the latest a fatality on Hwy 103 near Halifax.
Of these deaths, Nova Scotia RCMP has handled 35 in its jurisdication, along with 89 collisions causing serious injury.
This compares to 48 road deaths in 2017. Impaired driving, distracted driving, excessive speed and not wearing seatbelts are often contributing factors.
RCMP Cpl. David McLean, who works out of Stellarton Pictou County, has to deal with the aftermath of fatal accidents on a regular basis.
He recalled seeing a virtually undamaged car interior following one crash. However, a spider web-like crack in the windshield was evidence of where the driver hit their head and died. Such deaths can be prevented by wearing a seatbelt.
“Knocking on someone’s door to tell them that their loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle collision is one of the toughest things that we can do as police officers,” said McLean. “Dealing with a grieving family and trying to explain to them what happened and the frustration we feel, when we know it was preventable, makes it that much tougher.”