It's been a deadly 24 hours here on the South Plains. Three people were killed in area car accidents and authorities say none of the victims were wearing their seat belts.
With thousands expected to hit the road en route to various New Year's celebrations, DPS troopers send out a warning -- buckle up or possibly pay the consequences.
"It takes only a few seconds to put it on and it only takes a few seconds for a crash to happen," says Corporal John Gonzalez with Department of Public Safety.
It was in a split second three lives were lost on the South Plains. In a 24 hour span, three separate accidents with a common tie none of the victims were wearing their seat belt.
One fatal rollover happened around 12:40 Thursday morning in northeast Lubbock County. DPS troopers say 54-year-old Renee Villanueva of Lubbock lost control of his car about seven miles south of Petersburg. Villanueva was ejected from the car after it rolled several times. He was not wearing a seatbelt and authorities believe alcohol could have been a factor. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Just six hours earlier Terry County authorities responded to a fatal rollover on Highway 62 eight miles south of Wellman. Filiberto Campos was towing another vehicle when the tow rope broke causing him to lose control. He was ejected and pronounced dead on the scene.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon a New Mexico woman was killed in an accident in Yoakum County on Highway 82 six miles west of Plains. Rita Woodfield of Carlsbad traveled into the opposite bar ditch and over-corrected. She was not ejected but was pronounced dead on the scene.
Three deaths that might have been prevented authorities say if the victims had simply buckled up. Troopers say it was what made the difference in an early morning accident.
"We had one this morning around 4:00. He rolled four and a half times, but he was wearing a seat belt. He still had injuries and those are expected but he was able to walk away from that," says Gonzalez.
Authorities say this story is just one example of how they've seen safety belts save lives time and again.
"All we ask the public is to please wear their seat belts. Please slow down, buckle up little ones in properly that's all we ask, it's a very simple task," says Gonzalez.
Troopers also want to remind drivers you can receive a ticket if you are caught not wearing your seat belt. It's a ticket that could cost you up to $200.
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