Father widowed by crash makes emotional plea: 'Buckle your kids'

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BRILLION, Wis. (WBAY) -- "I think it was all the difference. It was really close for these guys," said Teddy Klemm.

The Calumet County, Wisconsin father says tightly-buckled car seats saved the lives of his three boys.

Klemm is making a passionate plea to other parents to make sure their kids are always buckled tightly in their car seats.

His three sons survived a horrific car accident on Highway 57 in Brown County, Wisconsin last week.

Their mother, and Teddy's wife, 31-year old Cara Klemm, was killed instantly.

Officials are still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but think she somehow failed to yield to an oncoming dump truck.

Investigators are convinced the boys survived because they were properly buckled into their car seats.

Klemm hopes sharing their story could save another child.

"They're three little miracles sitting here," he said.

He believes he has these three little miracles sitting on his lap, because of the actions Cara took last Thursday morning.

"Me, I was always lazy. I would just let her strap them all in, but she always made sure the extra hooks were on and everything was anchored, and that the straps were always nice and tight," he said.

It was that few extra seconds she took making sure 6-year old Wyatt, 4-year old Wesley and 1-year old Wiley were buckled securely into their car seats, that he believes made the difference and kept these boys alive.

When you see Cara's car, you can see why.

Investigators say she had no chance of survival, with the brunt of the impact just in front of the driver's seat.

But all three car seats are still in the back seat, virtually untouched.

"They're alive because of those conscientious decisions about their child's safety are why these children are alive," says Captain Dan Sandberg, who responded to Cara's crash for the Brown County Sheriff's Office. "The age-appropriate seats that these kids were in helped them survive and just have bumps and bruises."

He is showing her car, hoping these images flash in other parent's minds when they buckle their own kids in.

"Making sure that one year old was still rear facing kept him safe, and made sure he wasn't ejected," says Kimberly Hess with the Center for Childhood Safety. "Thank goodness they were in car seats. If they weren't restrained and restrained appropriately in those car seats, there's no way that they would have survived."

The boys are still healing from minor injuries.

"He had two black eyes. His front of his face was really... it must have hit the seat, but he was restrained enough that it didn't cause him any other damage to his head," says Klemm of Wyatt's injuries.

"Little Wesley here... I don't know if it was a piece of glass, but he had a little cut on his eye," he said. "I doubt it... It was a piece of glass," says Wesley, interrupting his dad. "OK. Well I'm pretty sure he had a concussion, because he was right behind her."

"This little guy, he's just got a couple of little scratches on the top of his head. Other than that, he was perfectly fine," he continued, talking about Wiley.

Emotionally, there's a long road ahead for all of them.

"It was kind of hard to hear from him that he was checking her over and pushing on her and opening her eyes and all that stuff to say, 'Come on, mom, wake up,' and she didn't," Klemm said.

As heartbreaking as it is to hear, Klemm says his faith is getting them through tough times and is giving him hope for the future.

In the meantime, he hopes sharing his story will spare other parents any heartache in the future.

"Be more comprehensive, because I'm telling you, I would never in a million years expected this to ever happen, and it can, and it did," he said.

For more information about car seat safety, click on the link below or to the right of this story.

Read the original version of this article at wbay.com.

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