Pea In The Podcast Blog

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Daughter's Car Seat Saved Her Life

One gray morning last week my daughter and I were in a terrible car accident.

My beautiful four year old and I careened off the road at between 60 and 70 miles an hour. We launched through a guardrail and began to roll. I don't know how many times.

Then, in a quiet field in rural Texas, motion stopped.

Most of this I know because it has been told to me. I have been told that my car and another collided along the highway. We were traveling the speed limit, but that was fast. I lost control of my SUV.

I lost control.

My baby was in the car.

I remember snapshots. Frozen images on which I fixate. I can't remember what came before. I can't remember what came after. So I loop what I remember until I realize my heart is racing, I'm drenched in sweat and I've lost my breath.

I see a guardrail. I think of my baby. I see an airbag. The fabric has a pattern on it. I think of my baby. I smell something acrid like gunpowder. I think of my baby.

The car rests. There is a shower of blood.

I think of my baby.

"Baby, are you okay?" (Please God, please let my baby be okay)

"I'm okay, mommy!"

I turn to see the eager face of my saucer-eyed child. It looks like she might really be okay!

She didn't have a single scratch on her. Not one. Her perfect pink skin remains unbroken. Unblemished. Unbruised.

The blood was all mine. Thank God. I am recovering from a head and hip wound after being taken by helicopter to the hospital, but I, too, am okay.

This is what remains of my SUV.

How is it even possible that my daughter was unhurt?

She was firmly strapped into her car seat with its five point harness. That car seat was tightly connected to the "latches" embedded in the rear seat of the car. It was positioned in the center.*

I am not one to advertise for a particular brand of car seat (unless they're paying me obscene amounts of money lol. Not the case here). The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration says "all car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards." You can evaluate the safety of the car seat you've chosen for your child here. I don't think you have to go deeply into debt to get a safe car seat for your baby.

That said, my child was protected by her Britax Marathon. Her head does not yet reach the top of this particular child safety seat, and the sides seem to surround her. I think that may have shielded her from the variety of things that were flying around as we were rolling.

But I believe the most important contributing factor to my daughter's survival of this devastating crash was the proper installation of the seat, and the fact that she was properly strapped in. In fact, a police officer has told me as much. But this is not as simple as it seems.

The good folks at tell us 7 out of 10 kids in child safety seats are not buckled in properly. The NHTSA tells us motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children between 2 and 14 years old. I think that is reason enough to check your car seat. Make sure it's properly installed. Make sure you know how to buckle your baby in correctly.

You don't have to figure this out on your own.

The NHTSA knows who the experts in child safety seat installation and use are where you live, and they have a searchable database. It wouldn't hurt to stop by and let the experts help you out.

This isn't the first time we at Pea in the Podcast have talked about child safety seats, and it probably won't be the last. Hopefully it will be the last time I will share such a personal story with you about the importance of car seats and proper installation.

Please, take another look at the picture at the top of this blog posting. The newspaper photo.

That's my car.

That's my baby.

Alive. Amen.


*Several smart parents have informed me that many cars do not have "latches" for center positioning, so please check your owner's manual before latching your car seat in the center.


Anonymous Nicole said...

Oh, Bonnie, how scary! I'm so glad the two of you are OK. Thanks for sharing.

August 7, 2009 4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story. I am so sorry this happened to you. So glad to hear your baby is ok. What a good lesson for us all to remember. Car Seats should REALLY be checked by the experts to make sure they are super strapped in.

August 7, 2009 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Pocklock said...

I'm SO happy you are both okay. I hope your recovery goes smoothly.

So many people (of the older generation, ie: my parents, in-laws, aunts and uncles) make fun of me for being as rigid as I am about my daughter's car seat. We always have them professionally installed by the police and I am fanatical about it being strapped correctly without any twists in the straps, etc.

I'm a former (recovering) EMT and I've seen it all. I've seen the worst. It haunts me. I had to leave the field because I couldn't stomach the trauma once I started a family. I took it all home. It's still with me. Every time I get in the car.

I am so personally grateful for you sharing this story. There are so many people in my life that need to see the difference this car seat made for you.

God Bless, Bonnie.

August 12, 2009 11:46 AM  
Blogger Karen (Canadian Soldier's Wife) said...


August 12, 2009 2:25 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Petrie said...

This post has been removed by the author.

August 12, 2009 5:13 PM  
Blogger SchrefflerFamily said...

Thank you for sharing. Do not worry, car seats installed by seatbelts are no less safe than those installed by LATCH. The LATCH is supposed to make it easier to properly install a car seat, that is all. But if the carseat is properly installed, it does not matter if it is using a seatbelt or LATCH.

August 13, 2009 5:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While LATCH isn't necessary to get a good installation, the top tether is. The lower anchors are an alternative to seatbelt (and can only be used to certain weights, 40-48lbs for most vehicles, check your manual), but tethers are in addition and are known to be a major difference in the outcome of a car accident. I am so glad that your child is okay! I hope you heal quickly!


August 13, 2009 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Kaira said...

Sorrowful, but it is so amazing.

August 21, 2009 2:44 AM  
Blogger Bonnie Petrie said...

Thanks for all of this wonderful car seat information! I'm reassured that seatbelts are just as safe as latches, because my new car does not have center latches, and I just don't feel comfortable positioning her on the side. I know she would have been hurt if she had been positioned on the side in our accident.

August 24, 2009 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We did the same thing. No center latch but we have the best installation possible (thanks to our local police department who does it for free! The important thing to have is the tether at the top of the car seat that tethers the top to the trunk so it's extra secure. That's what I love about my Britax. We also got the Boulevard model that has the side impact protection (it's like wings for a car seat). These things are so scary. I am praying that you and your baby are doing better.

August 24, 2009 1:51 PM  
Blogger Jason and Vanessa said...

Wow that is really amazing! I want to share this on my facebook and blog is there any way I can do that? How would I do that?


September 26, 2009 10:45 PM  
Blogger Jason and Vanessa said...

I figured it out sorry I'm a dork!

September 26, 2009 10:46 PM  

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