A seat belt likely would have saved the life of a 15-year-old boy found dead Tuesday at the scene of a rollover crash about two miles north of Waverly, Neb., said Lancaster Sheriff Terry Wagner.
Taylon Artman of Eagle, Neb., was among six young people traveling in a 2003 red Pontiac Grand Am on a gravel road near 141st Street and Raymond Road north of Waverly.
None of the occupants, ranging in age from 14 to 20, was wearing a seat belt as required by law, but Taylon was the only one to lose his life.
“It's a proven statistic that wearing a seat belt significantly improves survivability, especially in a rollover accident,” Wagner said. “If you can remain in a vehicle that's rolling over, your chances of living are so much greater. We can't emphasize this enough.”
The crash happened about 7 p.m. when a 15-year-old driver lost control of the car. The Grand Am rolled at least two times before landing in a ditch on its wheels.
Taylon and a passenger who was sitting on his lap in the backseat, Chevie Engelhart, 14,of Waverly, were thrown from the vehicle.
Wagner said Carley Benson of Waverly was driving the Grand Am on a learner's permit. He said she was not accompanied by an adult 21 or older as required by law.
Wagner said Carley had been given the car by her grandparents within the past two weeks. He said investigators determined that she failed to adjust her driving while turning from a paved road to a gravel surface.
“This accident just smacks of inexperience,” Wagner said. “She didn't change her driving to match the surface.”
Wagner said the group had been hanging out at Jaycee Park just before the accident. The accident investigation is continuing, he said.
Carley and Randy Abbott, 20, of Waverly, were admitted to Bryan West Medical Center in Lincoln. Three other occupants — Adirea Grossman, 15, of Eagle, Christopher Engelhart, 18, of Waverly, and his sister, Chevie — were treated at the hospital and released.
Crisis counselors are available today for Waverly High School students and staff dealing with the death Taylon. Waverly School District superintendent Bill Heimann said Taylon had attended Waverly as a freshman but transferred to Lincoln East this year.
“Taylon was a likable young man who had many friends,” Heimann said.”Our thoughts are with Taylon's family and friends.”
Video from the accident scene