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A Child Lost, A Child Saved: Two Crashes, Two Very Different Outcomes, and a Tragic Reminder to Parents

Safety advocates are again appealing to parents to buckle up their children after two recent California crashes illustrated the life-or-death difference that the correct use of child safety seats can make.

A five-year-old boy was killed in a three-vehicle crash on Highway 99E after his family’s Nissan Maxima was hit from behind and shunted into an oncoming big rig. Although the Maxima was completely destroyed by the impacts of the crash and a subsequent fire, the female driver survived and was transported by medical helicopter to hospital. The child, who, according to Tehama County deputy coroners, was not properly secured in a child restraint, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Two days earlier, a six-year-old Chico boy survived a crash in which his mother’s car crashed into a canal alongside Highway 45. The child, who had been buckled up, escaped with cuts to his hands, arm, and head. His mother sustained major injuries.

Many parents fail to take heed of essential safety messages, according to SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. Executive Director Stephanie Tombrello. “Traffic crashes remain the number 1 cause of death for children today. Half of the children who die were riding unrestrained. The majority of those deaths would have been prevented by use of safety seats and safety belts.”

Parents also need to know how to buckle their children up correctly. “Nine out of ten parents who seek help at safety seat checkups find out that they have not properly secured their child in the car. Parents need to educate themselves properly in how to choose, fit, and use their child restraints. The safety seats available today are excellent products – but in order to protect children properly from the massive forces of a crash, they must be used correctly. We stand ready to help with practical information.”

The fine for failing to properly secure a child under 16 in a safety seat, booster, or safety belt is at least $469. The parent, if present, gets the ticket; otherwise, the driver is cited. A portion of the fine money goes to the local health department to provide community education as well as safety seats for low-income families.

Parents who have questions about safely buckling up the whole family are invited to contact the Safe Ride Helpline (800-745-SAFE) or go to Safety seat checkup events will be held across the state on National Seat Check Saturday, on Saturday, September 21, including at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance. Call the Safe Ride Helpline to make an appointment.

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