The buckle saved a life: How a college student’s life was changed through one action

By Michelle Guerin
March 12, 2018

A photo of Maria Guido before the accident. Photo submitted by Maria Guido.

When you are driving on the usual route to school, work or to an occasion, who would think something would happen?

“The highway where I was hit, I drive that same way pretty much every weekend and randomly got totaled one weekend,” Maria Guido, a sophomore at Delaware Technical Community College, said.

Guido’s life changed in a blink of an eye when driving home like any other day.

Guido’s seatbelt was a contribution to her being able to tell the story today.


Guido’s skull was shattered in the accident. Photo submitted by Maria Guido

On Jan. 2, Guido was driving home when at around 6 p.m., she was in an unforgettable car crash and helicoptered from Woodstown, N.J. to the Cooper Hospital.

“My skull was shattered on the left side and it was cracked from ear to ear,” Guido said. “There’s a vein that goes through your brain and that was really badly damaged, but somehow, it stopped bleeding on the way to the hospital.  I had to get surgery and have metal plates and screws in the side of my head to hold my head together.”

“I have a scar from the front of my left ear to my forehead of my right side,” Guido said.

Guido has a scar across her head from the accident. Photos submitted by Maria Guido.

Instantly taken into the helicopter and unable to speak, Guido was not able to give her home phone number or any information about herself except her name. Guido’s mother had no idea where her daughter was until midnight that day.  

“A few hours after she [Maria] wasn’t home, saying she was going to be, I started to worry,” Andrea Guido, Maria’s mother, said.  “The worry soon turned into frantic when she was not answering the phone or returning phone calls for hours.”  

After calling some friends, her mom got in contact with a friend that didn’t hear from Maria Guido for more than five hours, and he instantly started calling police stations.

“We had the worst phone call ever, from Brendan, saying she had been in an accident and had been taken in a helicopter to the hospital,” Andrea Guido said.

Guido was happy to be visited by Brandan Peoples. Photo submitted by Maria Guido.

Upon getting in contact with the neurosurgeon on their way to the hospital, Guido’s parents were informed that their daughter suffered major injuries.

No one else was in the car with Guido that evening. After being in surgery, Guido struggled medically for the first few days.

“I was heavily sedated and minimally conscious,” Guido said.

Guido has nothing other to thank than her seatbelt.

According to Pennsylvania law, you must wear a seatbelt if you are in a front seat.

According to National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration, “In 2015 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives and could have saved an additional 2,814 people if they had been wearing seatbelts.”

“In my opinion, if I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, there was a 99 percent chance I would have been dead from that accident,” Guido said.  “I think the seatbelt kept me from flying out of the windows or the windshield, otherwise I would have been destroyed.”

Guido smiled with a friend after her surgery. Photo submitted by Maria Guido

Continued on the DMV’s website, “If you are driving with anyone under eight to 18 years old in the vehicle, they must wear a seatbelt at all times, both in the front and back seat.  Failure to do so is considered a primary offense and, as the driver, you could face fines.”

The law is similar to the laws in New Jersey on the Department of Law and Public Safety website.  

“Laws are meant to protect people from either harming themselves or harming someone else,” Maggie Javitt, a senior criminology and sociology major at Cabrini University, said. “Seat belt laws would obviously fall under the first category.  Just like motorcycle helmet laws, seat belt laws are to ensure public safety by protecting people from dangers that exist in everyday life, also known as car accidents.”

“We had long several days after that, but we are fortunate that she was in good hands and is a strong person who is able to handle this difficult situation,” Andrea Guido said.

Michelle Guerin

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