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Students get close look at importance of seatbelt use

PARK HILLS — Students at Central Elementary got a good look at why it’s important to wear their seatbelts Tuesday. The students got to view the mangled police cruiser of St. Francois County Deputy Ross Clouse. The car was brought to the Central Elementary campus by Kary Buckley.

“They (students) will remember this,” Buckley said. “They don’t forget stuff like this. Hopefully we can influence them to use their seatbelts.”

Students were divided into groups and were allowed to get an up close and personal view of the car.

“The student population is approximately 200 at Central Elementary,” said St. Francois County DARE officer Gary Carver. “By breaking the student body up into groups everyone got a good look at the car.”

Carver told the students that he believes three things saved the life of Clouse.

“The first thing was the fact that Deputy Clouse was wearing his seatbelt,” Carver said. “The second thing was the airbag that deployed and the third thing was the bulletproof vest that Deputy Clouse was wearing.”

When Buckley asked students how many of them wear their seatbelt, unfortunately the show of hands was few and far between.

“Next time you get in your car always remember to put your seatbelt on,” Buckley said. “It’s very important that you remember that. Deputy Clouse wore his seatbelt and that is what kept him alive.”

In addition to Buckley and Carver, Sheriff Dan Bullock was also on hand to talk about the importance of wearing seatbelts.

“This was Kary’s (Buckley) idea,” Bullock said. “Anything that we can do to show kids the importance of wearing seatbelts is very important.”

Air Evac was supposed to make an appearance at the school, but had to reschedule due to an emergency call.

Clouse was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident on June 18. Clouse was on a routine patrol on Route K when he was struck head on. The other motorist was passing a vehicle on a hill crest and struck Clouse’s police cruiser, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Clouse along with the other driver was flown to St. John’s Mercy Center by Arch Helicopter. Clouse suffered severe injuries to his leg which had to be surgically repaired.

“The leg was able to be fixed,” Bullock said in an interview on June 19. “He is going to be laid up for quite a while, but there is no reason to think he isn’t going to make a complete recovery.”

Clouse remains in the hospital.

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