Seatbelts save victims in collision with alleged drunk driver

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 16 at 8:34 AM

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Four survivors credit seatbelts for saving their lives after an alleged drunk driver, going the wrong way on State Highway 162 in Puyallup, slammed into their car early Sunday morning.

Trisha Hensley-Kohl, who was driving the car that was hit, suffered numerous critical injuries, including a broken hip, femur, wrist and forearm.  She will need pins and plates in her hip, knee and ankle, said Jeff Kohl, her husband.

"I just thank God," he said. "Thank God for seatbelts."

Hensley-Kohl's 5-year-old son Jagger was in the backseat.  He suffered only minor injuries. 

Her friend Marisa Maestas and daughter Darion Goff were also in the car.  They also suffered only bumps and bruises, most of them caused by the seatbelts that kept them from flying through the windshield.

"We've all got seatbelt marks and if we didn't have those seatbelt marks, we could be telling a completely different story," Maestas said. 

The suspect, a 53-year-old man from Puyallup, was driving East on state Route 162 when he crossed the center line, according to the State Patrol.

"There was nowhere to go on either side of us," Maestas said.  

Hensley-Kohl honked her horn and flashed her lights before trying to pull into a driveway.

"As soon as her front tire hit the gravel, he hit us dead on," Maestas said.  

The State Patrol believe the driver who hit them was impaired.  He will likely be charged with vehicular assault.

"I felt anger," said Kohl, adding that he and his wife were supposed to celebrate their 6-year wedding anniversary on Sunday.  "Too many people getting hurt, killed because of stupidity."

Hensley-Kohl was already dealing with a variety of medical problems, including fibromyalgia, a painful disorder.

"It's going to be a long road to recovery, but I'm ready for it," Kohl said.

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