• Seat belt, safety seat use helped save Travis, Layton Kolles lives
by Tim Hennigar
A Monticello father and son injured by another driver in a July high-speed chase have received a unique safety recognition from the Minnesota State Patrol.
Travis and Layton Kolles were seriously injured in a car accident July 22 that involved a man who was fleeing police near County Road 18 and East Broadway.
Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 23, Troopers Sara Stack and Reed Bye and Sgt. Mark Roddy were waiting for Travis and Layton to return home. Travis works at Hassan Sand and Gravel in Rogers.
The law enforcement trio presented the pair with “Saved by the Seat Belt” and child safety seat awards, which serve as official recognition that a person or persons is a crash survivor.
Stack was the trooper who wrote up the official details of the crash that injured Travis and Layton. She nominated them for the seat belt and seat awards.
Stack, Bye and Roddy were present at the accident; Roddy completed the accident reconstruction.
“I am confident both father and son are alive because they were properly restrained in their vehicle,” Stack wrote via email.
“Although they are not fully recovered from their injuries, Travis and Layton still have a long road of healing from such a serious crash,” she said. “It is important for the father to know he did protect his son and himself by being properly restrained in the vehicle. If they were not, the crash outcome would not have been favorable.”
Stack said a trooper who investigates a particular crash may nominate those involved if certain criteria are met; while Travis and Layton sustained serious injury, she said seat belt and safety seat use helped them escape death.
“Someone was watching over me, and the both of us have been pretty blessed, and lucky,” Travis said after Stack presented the awards Oct. 23, referring to his and Layton’s period of recovery. Travis recently returned to work as an operator at Hassan Sand & Gravel.
“The way my recovery went, I didn’t think I would be back to work already,” he said. “I’m pretty good. My memory is pretty much the way it was, but I do get tired a lot faster. The doctors say it will take up to a year before that goes away.”
Travis said he’s avoided viewing any news coverage that surrounded the July 22 accident, but he did look at a picture of his car.
“That’s the biggest step I’ve taken yet,” he said. “Someday, I hope not to think about it.”
Christine Kolles feels the same way. She was pregnant with a second child when the accident occurred. Christine recently provided a three-month update on Travis and Layton’s CaringBridge site: “Three months ago today our lives forever changed,” she wrote. “It’s been a long and crazy three months. But all that matters is that we made it through, Travis and Layton are here and doing great, and now we feel stronger than ever as a couple and as a family. Layton is in love with having a baby in the house, and he loves being at day care a few days a week, and is his crazy self running around the house. He is our little miracle to the say the least. Layton loves being a big brother. Some days I sit back and think of everything that has happened (to us), and I tear up with happiness knowing that all three (of my) boys are healthy and happy.”
Bye said when he arrived at the accident, he was amazed at how well the child safety seat had protected Layton.
“That keeps sticking in my mind, and it will for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. That side-impact-approved seat really did its job.”
Travis said he and Christine recently bought a similar set for Layton’s brother, Nash Robert. Bye and Travis agreed that the child safety seat’s clamshell-like collapse around Layton protected him.
“For the most part, Christine picks Layton up 80 percent of the time. That day, I got off earlier,” Travis said, referring to the day of the accident. “Everything happens for a reason. You just try and take the positive out of it,” he said.
Christine added on CaringBridge that as the holidays move closer, she and Travis will be even more to be grateful.
“To have Travis and Layton with us this Thanksgiving and Christmas will be such a blessing,” she wrote. “We are forever grateful to every single person who took the time to continue to pray for us. I wish we could hug and personally thank every person. Without all of your prayers I don’t think we would be where we are today. To our families and friends, thank you. The constant support has helped make this accident a little easier. We are so lucky to have such a great family and friends. We love you all!”