Deborah Keller, from left, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joel Knutsen and Carolyn Sheppard pose for a photo Friday afternoon. Keller and Sheppard were awarded a Saved by the Belt award from Buckle Up Montana. Knutsen nominated the pair for surviving a serious accident on Interstate 87 near the Northern Winz Casino.
Deborah Davey Keller was driving home on U.S. Highway 87 recently.
She saw a southbound car stopped in the opposite lane ready to turn left into Northern Winz Casino.
"I saw him, and I was going to take my car off cruise control," Keller said. "But he was stopped, so I didn't worry."
Suddenly, the other driver turned into the casino just as she passed. She slammed on the breaks, and a bad accident occurred.
Her car was damaged, and the other car overturned. The driver of the second car was charged with various traffic offenses.
Friday, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joel Knutsen called Keller and her passenger, Carolyn Davey Sheppard, over to the Highway Patrol offices. He told them they needed to sign the accident report.
But that was a ruse.
The two were called over to receive the "Saved by the Belt Award."
The award is sponsored by Buckle Up Montana and the Montana Department of Transportation. Police can nominate people who they think have been saved from serious injury.
"Not too many of these awards are given out," said Mary Owens of the HELP Committee, which assisted in the award presentation. "But these people set a great example."
Keller said she's sure the seat belts helped prevent serious injury.
"The airbags and seat belts caused some bruises," she said, "but it was better that what could have happened."
Keller says she always wears seat belts when driving.