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No Seatbelts Responsible for Recent Fatal Accidents

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COMANCHE Okla_ There have been three fatality wrecks in our area in less than a week, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said all three victims were not wearing seat belts and were ejected.

One of those accidents happened just before 11:00 PM Friday on Monument Hill Road near Addington in Jefferson County. 12-year-old Joseph McTee was riding with his older brother and sister and a family friend, when his brother lost control of the car on the gravel road. That's when the car rolled nearly 3 times ejecting Joseph. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Joseph's family said they are learning first and foremost that seatbelts really can save lives. The other 3 passengers in the car had theirs on and were treated and released. After that, there are still a lot of questions. Joseph's mother said he knew to wear a seatbelt, and he normally did. So, no one is sure why he didn't have it on that night.

Joseph's mom, Sondra Sumner, said the world lost an angel Friday night.

"He was always happy," Sumner said, "Always smiling, always trying to cheer somebody up."

She said that smile put her in a better mood every day. Joseph, or "Jo Jo" as everyone called him, was a 5th grader at Comanche Elementary School and had big plans for his future.

"He wanted to be a state trooper," Sumner said.

Because of that, he knew how important it was to wear a seatbelt every time he was in the car.

"The kids told me that they asked him if he had a seatbelt on, and he said he was fastened," Sumner said.

One story is that he might've taken it off at some point to lie down in another passenger's lap. Tyrone Dixon has been a highway patrolman for 5 years. He said situations like this never get any easier, and unfortunately, they happen too often.

"There've been numerous fatality collisions, where we believed in investigating the collisions that had that individual been wearing a seatbelt, they would not have been ejected," Dixon said. "The vehicle would not have rolled on top of them. They would have remained inside the vehicle."

Joseph's mother agreed 100% before the accident.

"Every time we've gotten into a vehicle the rule is, you don't put the car in gear unless everybody is fastened," Sumner said.

Joseph's mother said she didn't get off until midnight the night before the accident, but she did get to talk to Joseph briefly Friday morning. She said Joseph was excited about a magic show at school that day. She said she told him to have fun and that she loved him very much.

Joseph will be laid to rest Thursday morning. Parents of his 5th grade classmates have set up a fund at First National Bank in Comanche to help pay for funeral expenses.

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