Diboll woman hopes testimony will urge others to buckle up

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Riding unbuckled left 4-year-old Madison Villarreal with only a picture of her mother.

"I woke up to a very, very heavy knock on my front door, just to find two officers at my door to bring me the bad news," Brenda Herrada said.

Two years ago, Herrada's 20-year-old daughter, Megan Villarreal, was killed in a Lufkin car crash.

Villarreal, a passenger, was partially ejected from the car just half a mile from her destination.

"You see something and you think, well that's just not fair, but life goes on," Herrada said. "We all have a purpose and a reason."

Now she's spreading a powerful message. The same one TxDOT has been pushing for a decade: "Click It or Ticket."

Since the beginning of the campaign, seat belt use has gone up about 17 percent and researchers estimate one click has saved nearly 3,000 Texans.

"We still have work to do, we still have people, and you see them every day that still refuse to put on a seat belt," TxDOT spokeswoman Kathi White said.

A year before Villarreal died, Rhonda Loomer's seatbelt saved her life.

"My van was a mangled mess and I walked away from it essentially," Loomer said.

Loomer was traveling down State Highway 103 near Etoile when a one-ton truck hit her head on, totaling both vehicles.

"I left it parked where I had the accident in the parking lot and I took markers and I wrote 'seat belts save lives' and I left it parked there all summer long," she said.

"There's no doubt that these stories that people tell that survived or other people didn't survive make a difference and it's through education with enforcement that make a difference out here," Trooper Greg Sanches said.

"I feel like if that seat belt was on her that night, I don't believe she would've been ejected from that vehicle," Herrada said. "I feel like she would still be here."

Still here to watch little Madison grow up.

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