Durham woman’s survival in multi-car wreck makes her living proof of police campaign

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham woman who survived a multiple-car collision is taking the mantle as the elder poster child for the city’s “Click It or Ticket” program.

Crash investigators found Esther Minick suspended by her seat belt in her Toyota Prius, which was upside down at the intersection of Hopson Road and Davis Drive. Her car flipped and other vehicles struck it on the driver and passenger sides.

“I don’t know what happened. All I know is I had the ‘Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’ moment. I saw something white, and the next thing I remember is I was upside down,” Minick said.

She thinks the white was a curtain airbag as it deployed next to her head. The retired occupational therapist now teaches tai chi, and she used those skills to calm her breathing and gradually readjust her position.

First responders arrived, secured Minick’s neck, and removed her from the vehicle.

“I was actually amazed. She came out remarkably well,” Durham Police Department crash investigator Gabriel Munter said. “I thought this is gonna be probably the worst-off person in this wreck when I saw the car.

Munter spoke with CBS 17 in May as part of Durham’s Click It or Ticket campaign. The city’s Traffic And Crash Team (TACT) issued 95 seatbelt citations and four child seat citations during its month-long increased efforts to buckle down enforcement towards people who fail to buckle up.

“Wrecks happen, and they shouldn’t happen, but when they do, we like to see everybody come out as good as they can, and she certainly did,” Munter said about Minick.

“This is why we have our Click It or Ticket campaign. This is why we ask people to wear their seat belts. This would have probably been fatal for her or very very badly injured. I just can’t say enough that that seat belt really helped her.”

Minick suffered bruising to her shoulder and hip, and while her body still has some aches and pains, she did not sustain any broken bones or significant cuts.

In the week since her wreck, she has thought back to the early 1980s when seat belt laws were enacted in Virginia, where she and her husband Bob lived at the time. 

“Since then, it’s just been a matter of habit. You get in the car, you put on a seat belt, you turn around, you look,” she said.

“I can’t imagine anyone not putting their seat belt on, and it saved my life, I’m sure of it.”

Minick hopes to replace her totaled vehicle with another Prius.

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