Injured boy pushes through pain to send safety message

Injured boy pushes through pain to send safety message

By Craig Smith. CREATED Aug 5, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A 12-year-old Tucson boy will not be going to school for a few days.  He has a good excuse, and he's sharing a life-saving lesson.
Buckle that seatbelt.  You've been hearing that message for years.  Maybe you click it, maybe you don't. But you've probably never heard that message quite the way Jose Velazquez tells it.

He is healing up from a terrible traffic accident.

"That car came out of nowhere and it just, like, happened."
Jose says faith, and prayers in the ambulance kept him alive.
The first time he saw his mom in the hospital, he made a confession.

Roxanne Encinas says, "He was apologizing to me telling me, 'Mom, I'm sorry, I wasn't wearing my seat belt.'"
Now Jose is a man on a mission.

He says, "I just want to tell like every child, kid, teenager and even adults to always wear a seatbelt."
Jose says he usually wears a belt, and doesn't quite know why he didn't that day.
Research backs up what Jose learned the hard way; that for kids like him, aged 10 to 14, seat belts cut injuries 46 percent.
But that's from the World Health Organization and a WHO report will probably not impress kids as much as what Jose says when family and friends come to his bedside.

He tells them, "Guys, wear your seatbelts, cause I don't want that happening to them."
Jose's dad Jesus says it made him proud watching Jose call young friends to his bed...

"And he would let them know, when you guys go home today, can you guys please make sure you put your seatbelts on."
Now Jose probably has about another week of healing before he's ready to take his lesson to school.

There were three other kids in the car with Jose. His family says they were wearing their belts and had no injuries or just minor ones.
The people who hit Jose's car ran away from their truck and disappeared.  Tucson Police are looking for them now.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press