Moorcroft Leader - The Voice of the Community Since 1909, Serving Moorcroft and Pine Haven, Wyoming

A good reason to buckle up


January 16, 2020

Moorcroft High School students who park on the south parking lot this week are being met with a extraordinarily battered Wyoming Highway Patrol vehicle recovered from a head-on collision in September of 2016.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper David Motsick was driving this car in the Sheridan area on the evening of September 22, 2016. He responded to a call regarding a car that was tailgating semi trucks on the east bound lanes of Interstate 90 near milepost 33, east of town.

When he arrived at the location, Motsick was unable to locate the vehicle in question. As he drove on toward Buffalo, he came up behind a semi and, beyond the truck, an ambulance with full crew headed back to home base in Rapid City, SD, in the passing lane.

He had just passed the semi and was still in the left lane, too. The traffic was descending a hill and rolling into a curve when the ambulance suddenly swerved into the median to avoid meeting a Chevrolet Cruise that had turned around on the east bound lanes and began traveling at a high rate of speed westward.

“I did not even see the car approaching me until it was way too late,” says Motsick. “The last thing I saw was headlights coming towards me.”

The two vehicles impacted with a combined speed of approximately 150 mile per hour, hitting on their passenger sides. Both cars slid into the median a bit beyond the ambulance.

“The crew said they looked in the rear view mirror and saw a fireball behind them,” says Motsick.

“That fireball was later determined to be the impact knocking the engine out of his Chevy Cruise. We hit with that much force.”

The patrol car slid into the median on the driver side and ended back on the wheels and the South Dakota ambulance crew immediately approached the now-still patrol car to assist Motsick.

Before the crash, a Minnesota couple and their children were returning home from a vacation in their motor-home. They stopped and joined the ambulance crew in responding to the crisis.

“The wife was a flight nurse and the husband was a deputy sheriff so these were the first four people at the crash scene,” he says. “In 15 years as a trooper, I could not have coordinated that. That was a God thing.”

Motsick, who was buckled in, was eventually transported to the Sheridan Hospital In a local ambulance and released within 24 hours of arriving. He acquired a broken wrist and a brain injury, ending his career as an active trooper, but he was alive.

“I was restrained. My injuries were minimal, all things considered. I get to see my daughter graduate this year and my wife and I get to celebrate our 30th anniversary this year,” he says.

The other driver had not been buckled in and went through the windshield. He was pronounced dead at the scene. This individual left behind a loving wife and a three-month-old child.

“Where he was not restrained, it cost him his life. If he had been restrained, there was enough room in his vehicle that he could possibly have survived; he would not have come out through the windshield,” Motsick says.

Motsick and his patrol car are together again in the Freshman Impact Project as powerful advocates for seatbelt use. He talks to students and the car is placed on display in several venues in an effort to convince young people of the importance of buckling up.

“If you look in the area of the driver’s seat, there is room enough to survive, which is exactly what we’re trying to say. Cars are designed to keep you safe in that area if we can keep you in that area,” he says.

This car is a testimony to the importance of seatbelt use, advocates Motsick. The former trooper is grateful for the opportunity to share his story with others, helping them to realize the true purpose and benefit of seatbelts.

While no longer able to drive for the department, Motsick became an evidence technician for that same office, still working within his chosen field, “just in a different capacity”, and still able to love his family, all because, a little over three years ago, he buckled his seatbelt.


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