Jamie Tucker has no doubt that seat belts saved her children’s lives.
The 44-year-old Eureka resident’s daughter, 15-year-old Jordan Tucker, and son, 17-year-old Jay Tucker, were passengers in an SUV that on Jan. 3 struck a tree and rolled over into a nearby field.
The teenagers were wearing seat belts while riding in the back seats, Jamie said.
“Every day they leave the house the last words I say are, ‘Seat belts, and I love you,’” Jamie said.
Jordan and Jay attend Eureka High School. Jordan is a sophomore, and Jay is a junior. Jamie said the driver and another passenger in the car attend Eureka High, but declined to identify them.
“They were just a bunch of kids out driving around listening to music and had a bad day,” Jamie said.
A 16-year-old female was driving a 2007 Pontiac Torrent south on Horneker Road just outside of the Eureka city limits. The driver told officers she believed she struck something in the road just south of Wengler Road, which caused her to lose control of the SUV, according to a St. Louis County Police report.
The Torrent went off the east side of the road and struck a tree. The SUV then overturned and landed in a field near the road, the report said.
St. Louis County Police did not say where the driver was from, and the department only listed the age of the other passenger, who was 17. The department also didn’t say if the driver and other passenger were wearing seat belts.
“There was no drinking or any drugs or anything involved with that; I know that for a fact,” she said. “My son said they rolled at least three or four times, and it ended up in the field, and they were trapped in the back. My son had to kick the door open to get them out of the back.”
Jamie said she was notified about the accident when she received a telephone call from Life 360, a location sharing app. She said she was driving on I-44 when she saw an odd number calling her and almost did not answer.
“The guy on the phone said, ‘Ma’am, we have detected that both of your children have been in an auto collision,’” Jamie said. “My heart just stopped.”
She said her children had been in a minor accident before, and she received a text message from the app. Jamie said she knew the accident was serious because of the call.
Personnel from Life 360 app alerted 911 to the accident, which dispatched the Eureka Fire Protection District and St. Louis County Police to the scene.
Jamie said after the call she turned around on I-44, picked up her husband, Mac Tucker, and drove to the scene of the accident.
“The kids were all beaten up and bloody in the back of the ambulance,” she said. “They were just smiling ear to ear. I saw them and almost passed out because of being so grateful that they were alive.”
Jamie said butterfly bandages were applied to her son’s forehead, and he said he had pain in his right ankle.
“He’s very fortunate. My daughter got her face banged up pretty well,” Jamie said. “She did end up having some soft tissue bruising on her face, and her nose swelled up really bad for a few days. She has a bunch of little cuts on her forehead and nose and on the sides of her head.”
Eureka Fire Public Information Officer Scott Barthelmass said two teenagers were taken to a hospital; Jamie said her children were not taken to a hospital.
Jamie said this was a hard life lesson for her children and their friends.
“I think it scared a lot of these kids they’re friends with who don’t want to wear seat belts,” she said.
Jamie said hopefully other teens will hear this story and start always wearing their seat belts.
“The only good thing that came out of this is a lot more kids want to wear their seat belts that weren’t,” she said. “So, that’s the only positive thing that I can say came out of this.”