‘My seatbelt saved my life’: Man, his cat survive fiery crash that killed 3 others

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 2:43 PM HST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY/Gray News) - Officials in South Dakota said three people were killed in a crash on Interstate 90 on Monday. One man who survived credits his seatbelt for saving his life.

Sheldon Tulio was on his way to his home in Sioux Falls after what he assumed would be an uneventful visit to the vet for his cat.

That’s when he got caught in the crash.

Tulio said he was following a white pickup truck when it swerved. He said the next thing he knew, he was hit by another vehicle, which caused his Jeep to roll off the road.

“I think two or three times we rolled before I realized what the heck was happening,” he said.

Tulio said the scene he witnessed was devastating.

“When I got out, and looked behind me, it was flames taller than my houses. That was one thing I worried about the most was, ‘Did these people get out okay?” he said.

The crash left Tulio with not just bruises and cuts but also questions.

“It’s so difficult to understand and know that for some reason I was able to walk away,” he said.

Tulio and his cat were miraculously both able to walk away relatively unscathed. He said it’s all thanks to his seatbelt.

“Without my seatbelt, I wouldn’t be here right now, from what the highway patrolman said,” he said.

Tulio said the near-death experience has given him new appreciation for getting to live another day.

“I want to say thank you to all the people that came, stopped their cars, and ran toward the scene to be able to help whoever they could,” he said. “To the first responders that came, I appreciate everything they did.”

Tulio said the crash isn’t something he’s soon to forget. He said he wants to urge others to be as safe as they can behind the wheel.

“If it wasn’t for my Jeep constantly pinging me that, ‘Hey, got to get your seatbelt on,’ I don’t think I would have always had that thought, just subconsciously to always put it on every time I got in the vehicle,” he said. “If there are people out there who don’t wear it, I implore you to please wear it, it saved my life, and it could save yours, a friend’s, and a family member’s.”

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is currently investigating the crash.