Saved by the belt: Northeast Ohio man survives head-on collision, given award

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RAVENNA – A 77-year-old Akron man survived a head-on crash May 1, mainly because he did something he has done since he started driving, he put on his seat belt.

Greg Cafarelli was driving a van when he was involved in a crash with another car on state Route 82 in Portage County, right in front of Jimmy D’s Lil Store.

The van Cafarelli was driving flipped over.

“The accident was only lasted like three seconds but someone could have died,” Cafarelli said. “The seat belt saved me. I have been wearing my seat belt for 57 years. My dad and uncle started a wrecking yard and I worked in the parts store when I was a teen. I saw the cars involved in accidents and it scared me.”

Cafarelli said when he got his first car he made sure it had seat belts.

“I have never driven without my seat belt on and anyone riding in my car has to wear one too,” Cafarelli said.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Jeffrey Greene, commander of the Ravenna Post, said after reviewing the crash and the circumstances he believes the crash could have been fatal had the drivers not been wearing their seat belts.

The driver of the other vehicle also had her seat belt on. She was injured but is expected to be OK.

Lt. Greene said Cafarelli was chosen to receive a saved by the belt award.  Cafarelli received the award Saturday during Portage County’s Click It or Ticket campaign kickoff.

“Back in the 1960s people actually made fun of me for wearing my seat belt, saying I didn’t need it,” Cafarelli said. “But I was right. I had that belt on and it saved my life.”

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