Long scheduled car seat safety check happens on day after 3 year old dies in wreck

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - Several agencies joined forces on Thursday in Morganton to take a close look at car safety seats for anyone who wanted it.

The Safe Kids initiative had scheduled the safety check long ago, but it came the day after a wreck in Catawba County claimed the life of a young mother and her 3 year old son.

Troopers believe she fell asleep early Wednesday while driving on Highway 16, then crossed the center line into the path of a pickup truck. The child was strapped into his car seat, but the car seat was improperly installed, said Trooper Jeffery Swagger. The top tether on the seat was not hooked in and the seat went forward at impact.

“It’s an extreme tragedy,” he said.

Whether the extra strap would have made a difference, in this wreck, no one can say for sure, he said.

Experts say it’s not uncommon for a parent to think a car seat is hooked in properly when it is not.

Morganton Firefighter Jose Bao said instructions on some seats can be complicated and hard to follow for parents who have not dealt with car seats before.

In many cases, he says, “There’s no one to tell them and show them what needs to be done with the car seat,” he said.  The safety check in Morganton Wednesday was designed to do just that. Several people took advantage and came in. Some seats were correctly strapped in, others were not.

Experts say parents can do a self-check, if they want. Emily Poteet of Public Health said it would take just seconds.

“If you can shake your car seat and see it move more than an inch that’s how you know it is not in correctly,” said Poteet.

Officials with Safe Kids say anyone with questions about the car seats should contact their local fire department or law enforcement agency.

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