As a parent, it is important to note that two out of every three children learn about car safety from their moms and dads. Unfortunately, only half of today’s parents remember to wear their seat belts when in the car.
The statistics say it all. The leading cause of accidental death among children ages four to 15 in the United States are motor vehicle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 2,000 children below the age of 15 die in passenger vehicle crashes every year, and almost 300,000 more children are injured in these crashes. More than 50 percent of these young victims were not restrained properly at the time of the accident.
The proper use of restraints can make a tremendous difference in saving a child’s life. A 2006 study by the Centers for Disease Control showed that the increased use of child safety seats for both infants and young children and the use of seatbelts for older children played a huge factor in reducing the yearly rate of child fatalities in vehicle crashes from the years 1978 to 2004.
In March 2012, a four-month old died after suffocating at a day care in Fort Bragg. The infant’s parents filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government amounting to $10 million, alleging wrongful death and the negligent infliction of emotional distress in the case of their son, Santino “Sonny” Degenhard.
Sonny suffocated on March 9, 2012 during tummy time at Pope Child Development Center.
Jason and Rachel Degenhard, Sonny’s parents, stated that they were both disappointed and heartbroken in when the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against the day care worker who was supposedly supervising their son. They were promised help and justice, but felt they were completely let down by such a heartless decision.
A surveillance camera at the day care center captured scenes from that morning, and Fort Bragg investigators and the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education documented the day’s events.
The day started when Rachel Degenhard dropped off her son at the center at 5:30 a.m. and placed him in a bouncy seat. The center’s procedures indicate that no child should be left in a bouncy seat for more than 15 minutes, but staff members left Sonny in the seat for approximately 90 minutes.