OAKDALE, Minn. (KMSP) - A Minnesota State Patrol trooper is using his tale of survival to remind drivers to buckle up.
On May 15, Sgt. Mike Krukowski was heading home on a frontage road along I-35 in Lakeville when a white car veered off I-35, went through a fence and hit his squad vehicle head-on.
“I heard the crash in a sense, I knew it was coming, obviously, I was seeing a car flying at me,” said Sgt. Krukowski.
Initially pinned in his Tahoe, the impact broke both of his feet and an arm. Despite his injuries, he was able to call his wife and radio in to dispatch to let people know he was okay.
Weeks later, while looking at his smashed up vehicle Thursday, reality set in that his injuries could have been even worse.
“I look at my car behind us, it's pretty horrific,” he said. “Just amazing that I survived that.”
He credits his seat belt as one of the main reasons he survived the crash. His wife, Crissy Krukowski, agrees. That day, she drove right past the crash to meet her husband at the hospital.
“I could see his squad, just barely, because it was turned the other way, and I could see the other car and my heart just dropped,” said Crissy Krukowski. “I could feel myself starting to shake a little bit because of what was going to happen. Because in my mind, I had no idea how bad it really was when he called.”
In his 14th year as a trooper, Sgt. Krukowski has heard every excuse in the book as to why people don't buckle up.
“’It's uncomfortable,’ or ‘I'll be able to get that seatbelt on right away, moments before the crash,’” said Sgt. Krukowski. “And I'll tell you what, you are not going to get that seat belt on right before the crash. I had fractions of a second when I saw that car coming at me. And there was no way that I would be able to reach over my left shoulder, and pull that seatbelt on and click it on moments before impact. There was not a chance.”
The other driver, 29-year-old Wesley Briggs from Lakeville, died after the crash. The State Patrol is still investigating why his car veered off the highway.
Through this weekend, more than 300 law enforcement agencies are on a special "Click It or Ticket" campaign.