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    Seat belts prevent dire outcome in collision

    Both drivers in Wednesday's accident on Belcher Road could have been killed without the belts, an investigator says.

    By CHRIS TISCH
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 11, 2002


    DUNEDIN -- Investigators are crediting seat belts with saving two men from critical injury or death after a two-vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon on Belcher Road.

    The crash occurred about 12:10 p.m. when Victor H. Davenport, 75, tried to make a left turn from northbound Belcher Road to westbound Evans Road, said Deputy Jim Bordner, a crash reconstructionist for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

    Davenport made his turn in front of a southbound 2000 Cadillac Escalade driven by John L. Scavuzzo, 46, of Dunedin. There was nothing Scavuzzo could do to avoid striking Davenport's 1998 Ford Explorer on the passenger side, Bordner said.

    The impact caused the Explorer to flip onto the driver's side, skid and rotate. It took firefighters about 18 minutes to cut the semiconscious Davenport out of the vehicle.

    Davenport, of Safety Harbor, was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center, where he was in serious condition Thursday. Deputies said his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

    Scavuzzo was taken to Mease Dunedin Hospital, where he was treated and released. Most of his injuries were from his air bag and seat belt, but Bordner said the injuries would have been much worse, and possibly fatal, had he not been buckled up.

    "That probably saved his life in this case," Bordner said. "This was a solid hit."

    The same applied to Davenport, who also was buckled up.

    "That's probably the only reason he's still alive," Bordner said.

    About 69.5 percent of Florida drivers wear seat belts, according to the Buckle Up Florida campaign. The campaign estimates that 83 lives would be saved and 1,740 injuries prevented in the state each year if the state's seat-belt usage percentage matched the nation's, which is about 73 percent.

    No charges have been filed in the Wednesday crash, though an investigation is continuing.

    Deputies closed Belcher Road for about three hours Wednesday afternoon to investigate the scene.

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