Car seat saves 15-month-old after expert inspection - KMSP-TV

Car seat saves 15-month-old after expert inspection

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SPRING VALLEY, Wis. (KMSP) -

Many stories of children who die in vehicle accidents include interviews with sobbing family members who struggle with the guilt of a preventable mistake, but the tears in this one are different -- they're joyful.

Bethany Olson is a mom who did everything right. She was just involved in a terrible crash, but her child is alive because she recently had someone inspect the child seat in her car.

"The things that I did to protect her would be factors that would save her life," Olson said.

Pictures from just one month ago show how far 15-month-old Emma Jean has come since the car she was riding in with her 2-year-old brother was struck by a truck.

"When I went and saw that car for the first time, I couldn't believe it either," Olson admitted. "I couldn't believe we survived -- especially her."

Emma Jean's car seat is still in perfect condition despite the crash, and that's because two weeks before it happened, Olson had an expert technician expect it. During that inspection, the expert found the seat was loose and had it properly installed.

"My doodlebug is here today because I did everything I could to protect her and her brother, and it saved me from planning a funeral," Olson reflected.

Dr. Michael Partington says there is no doubt that many of the children he could not save at Regions and Gillette Children's hospitals would be alive today if they had been properly restrained.

"Children are missiles if they are loose in a car," he explained. "They are killed by being flung and hitting something else or flying out."

Loose car seats are one of the biggest mistakes parents make, according to Heather Darby, a child car seat expert with the Department of Public Safety. She says those who use seatbelts to fasten child seats need to make sure it's tight every time.

"You would pull this all the way out and lock it as it goes back in," she directed. "Push down tight and pull it, and the car seat should not move more than an inch side to side."

The same goes for those using a latch system, but although it may seem easy, 75 percent of child car seats are not installed correctly, according to Darby.

"Not all car seats match every type of vehicle, so I would always recommend a parent try it before they buy it," she said.

Additionally, Olson says it's important for parents to make sure an expert takes a look.

"Nobody thinks this is going to happen to them, but when it does, you don't want to be the one that asks for a second chance because you may not get that," she warned.

A benefit fund to help the family pay for the treatment of EmmaJean's traumatic brain injury and skull fracture has been set up. Donations can be made online or can be mailed to the following address:

EmmaJean Olson
First Bank of Baldwin
P.O. Box 159
Spring Valley, WI 54767

The family also plans to host a benefit on Friday, July 25, at the Elmwood Rod and Gun Club located at N6433 State Road 72 in Elmwood between 4 and 8 p.m.

CAR SEAT CLINICS

In Minnesota

Car Seat Clinics at Regions Hospital
Contact: 651-357-2798
carseatinfo@healthpartners.com

In Wisconsin

Car Seat Clinics in West Central Wisconsin
Contact: WCRTAC@yahoo.com

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