SAN ANTONIO – Five young women lost their lives in accidents on local roads this week. None of them had on a seat belt.
On Wednesday, 16-year-old Andrea Reyna got her first car. Just two hours later, she was dead.
"Accidents happen,” her mother Anna Reyna says. “These kids think they're invincible."
Reyna says her daughter was not wearing a seat belt.
It’s a tragedy happening far too often on our roads – just ask the paramedics who deliver the bad news every day.
"I've seen too many dead people to not wear my seat belt,” San Antonio Fire Department paramedic Bob Beckett says.
Paramedics say if you saw how many people don’t wear a seat belt every day, you’d be shocked.
"It's not there for your comfort,” San Antonio Fire Department paramedic Randa Brown says. “It's not there to look cute. It's there to save your life."
As a YouTube video of a rollover crash shows, if you’re not wearing a seat belt, you’re not just rolling the dice – you are the dice, tumbling out of control.
"In a vehicle that rolls, you are going to fly,” Beckett says.
Passengers can fly into each other or into the windshield, causing permanent brain damage. But more often than not, people don’t survive the crash.
It’s a heartbreak Brown once came so close to experiencing.
"I rolled my car when I was 16 years old,” she says. “The girl who was sitting next to me – no kidding – one minute before I rolled my car I looked over and she didn't have her seat belt on. I said, ‘Put your seat belt on!’ And literally one minute later I rolled my car."
But fortunately, the both walked away.
And now, when you call 911, the first thing Brown and Beckett do is buckle their seat belts. And when they’re working on patients in the back of the ambulance, they’re strapped in the whole time.
"Everyone will tell you, once they've been in a car accident that they've had their seat belt on,” Brown says. “We always know whether you've had your seat belt on."
Because you’ll have bruises, like Monique Castaneda. She’s one of the four Brandeis High School students who crashed earlier this week while street racing during lunch hour.
Two of her friends didn’t make it, but Monique is alive because of a split-second decision she doesn’t even remember making.
"I honestly believe if I didn't have my seat belt on then I wouldn't be here today,” she says.
Paramedics say what infuriates them the most is when kids are not wearing seat belts. They’ve been to crashes where a parent was buckled up and walked away – but the kids had been crawling around the back seat with no protection, they were severely injured or killed on impact.