FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — A Fontana woman confessed she had never worn a seatbelt in her entire life until Saturday when a serious accident changed her ways.
On June 15, Rhonda Lantz was cited for not wearing a seatbelt. Ten days later, she was involved in a crash that almost killed her.
The 65-year-old was driving her F-150 when a tire blew on the 10 freeway. “I rolled three times and landed on the left side,” she said.
The wreckage of her truck revealed how violent the accident was – the windshield shattered, the body crumpled and the roof sliced open so rescuers could use the jaws of life.
But it was the seat belt that told the story of survival. Lantz was covered in deep cuts and bruises, but she’s alive.
“I thought I was going to hit somebody, but then I started going back. I rolled over, and I didn’t hit anybody,” Lantz recalled.
She likely survived the crash because she was wearing a seat belt. While buckling up may seem like second nature for many of us, up until a week before her crash, Lantz never wore one.
“A hundred percent of the time, I never wore it. It choked me. I’m 65, and it wasn’t from my time,” Lantz said.
She is alive because of Fontana Officer Luis Valenzuela, who wrote her a ticket for not wearing her seat belt just 10 days before her accident.
“She actually said: ‘Oh, you’re the first officer to stop me for it. I haven’t been wearing one for 50 years’ or as long as she was driving,” Valenzuela said.
“I wasn’t mad. It was my own fault. I knew it,” Lantz admitted.
Lantz can only thankValenzuela for her life. The two met for the first time Thursday since that ticket and her accident.
She said she hoped someone will also learn from her lesson.
“Had he not given me that ticket, I would not be here today,” Lantz said.
“It’s a great feeling to know that this enforcement stuff actually had resulted in saving someone’s life,” Valenzuela said.