survivor

GENTRY

GLASGOW — Josh Gentry doesn’t remember being in the wreck that nearly cost him his life.

The wreck occurred April 20, 2000, when the pickup truck he was riding in wrecked on Ky. 249 at the Skagg’s Creek Bridge.

Josh was a passenger in the back seat of the truck and was not wearing his seat belt.

The wreck left the 17-year-old in a coma with a severe brain injury.

He was flown by StatCare to the University of Louisville Medical Center. Doctors didn’t expect him to live, but he beat the odds. In the six months following the wreck, he awoke from the coma and learned how to walk and talk again.

Josh now spends a lot of time talking to teenagers about the importance of wearing seat belts.

His mother, Patty, thinks several students have taken him seriously.

“Especially if you show ‘Trauma in the E.R.,’” she said “My gosh, you can’t watch that and know that it’s not real.”

The Learning Channel filmed a documentary entitled “Trauma in the E.R,” while Josh was at the University of Louisville. The film documents his entire hospital stay.

This is the film he often shows students when speaking about the importance of wearing seat belts.

His mother believes he would have escaped injury if he been wearing his seat belt.

“We were not faithful seat belt wearers before Josh’s accident,” she said.

But they are now, especially Josh.

“Every time I get into a vehicle, that’s the first thing I do,” he said.

That’s why the family supports Kentucky’s new primary seat belt law.

In the past, motorists could not be cited for not wearing seat belts unless they were pulled over for another traffic violation.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2007, allows police officers to specifically pull motorists over for not wearing seat belts. Warnings will be issued beginning July 12.

Data collected by the Barren River District Health Department’s Safe Communities organization shows most teenagers don’t wear seat belts.

“It’s more boys than girls who aren’t buckling up,” said Vickie Poore, coordinator of the Barren County Safe Kids Coalition.

Of those who are between the ages of 16 and 30, only 54 percent of women and 35 percent of men wore their seat belts in 2005.

Josh says that is probably because boys feel like they are immortal and that nothing can happen to them.

“That’s the way I felt,” he said. “I was bad back then.”

His mother works at Temple Hill Elementary and has noticed several children not buckling up when their parents come to pick them up from school. So, she and other school personnel have started making sure students buckle up before leaving school.

She believes education is the key to the problem.

“I think if we can catch them at an early age (they will learn to buckle up),” she said.

Children learn by example, Poore said.

“If their parents buckle up, they are more than likely going to buckle up,” she said.

More information about seat belt usage can be found by visiting the district health department’s Web page at www.barrenriverhealth.org.

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