Wear Your Seatbelt!

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How many times have you climbed into your rig just to go down the street a block or two and decided not to use your seatbelt? How many times on the trail did you just move it up a little bit without your belt. Maybe you thought to yourself, "Hey, I'm a seasoned wheeler. I'll be ok." Or maybe, "I'll be able to jump out if something does happen." Perhaps it just slipped your mind and you drove without it. Scott Havis is a Texas wheeler that has graced our pages here before and thought the same thing this past April. What follows, is Scott's account of his rollover, which was the result of a momentary lapse of judgement.

If I had only buckled my seat belt I would have walked away. I would have been a little mad and my pride hurt and the Clear Lake Emergency Medical Corps, Seabrook Fire Department, Life Flight, Police, and all the others involved could have done something different that afternoon. It was just a test run, not even around the block. I've rarely put on my seat belt while driving around behind the shop. So here's the story...

Saturday, April 17, 1999 was an absolutely gorgeous day for working on the Cruiser. I had added a redundant starter solenoid to take care of the times the primary gets mud in it, reinstalled the steering stabilizer, checked all the lube oils, repaired a pipe hanger, a few other little things, and finally rebuilt the carburetor. The carb., a Quadrajet, was running on the primaries only and poorly at that. After finding the proper kit, discovering the float level was too low, and putting it all back together, I bolted it back on for a test.


Now, beside and behind the shop is a utility and pipeline right-of-way with a 150 yard two-track covered with grass. There is also a muddy drainage ditch back there and some mounds of dirt left-over from some construction. This is my 'test' area.I jumped in the Cruiser and she fired right up. I tooled over to the two-track, straightened her up and floored it. Wow! Secondaries were feeding, too. cool. I got to third a little early to see if there was the famous 'Quadrajet bog' and, yes, there was. Just after it 'unbogged' I was about out of track in the middle of third gear.

I went for the brakes without any real urgency- still plenty of room. Then she started to fishtail in the grass. Once to the left, I corrected, then back to the right and I realized I was about to go over. Then -violently- I went over. At that point, I was just trying to hang on. The Cruiser almost made it back on all fours, but then fell back down and I heard an awful crunch as the roll cage landed on my face. Then, suddenly, I was trapped with the bar coming to rest on my neck. I could barely gasp a breath and I knew if I didn't get this off of me in less than a minute I was going to black-out because the blood to my head was being cut off as well.

I heard someone running up yelling "are you O.K.?" He saw the roll and stopped- very lucky for me. He helped me lift it up so I could crawl out enough to get the weight onto my chest. I could breath. He tried to flag someone else down to get me the rest of the way out. With his back to me, the driver's seat started to flame up. Through my mangled jaw, I yelled at him " I've got a fire over here!" He ran back and removed the fire extinguisher (still in the mount) and put the fire out. The battery, mounted behind the drivers seat in a box, hadn't been fastened in and shorted against the seat, igniting the foam and cover. About that time another person ran over and, together, I wiggled out from beneath the bar.

Within five minutes, the EMS and fire department showed up. They are right across the street. They taped me to a board and suggested I be Life flighted to a trauma center due to possible head and neck injuries. Ten minutes later, I was aboard a helicopter to Hermann Hospital in Houston.

7 hours after the rollThe final result was a 7 day stay in the hospital and reconstructive surgery to repair 2 mandible (jaw) fractures, multiple facial breaks (cheek bones), and an orbital blow-out (eye socket bones). I will have my jaw wired shut for several weeks and red eyes for a couple of months. I believe I got out pretty lucky. I could have died.

All because I didn't think to need my seat belt.

- Scott Havis - April 28, 1999