Death of child in wreck a stark reminder: Buckle up and put kids in car seats
By WVUA 23 Reporter Gracie Johnson
A late night crash left a 3-year-old dead and a 4-year-old injured. The crash happened Wednesday, March 29 just after 11 p.m. on U.S. Highway 69 near the 135-mile marker, approximately seven miles south of Tuscaloosa, in Tuscaloosa County.
Officers on scene say a 2015 Hyundai Genesis driven by 24-year-old Shadereka Green, of Tuscaloosa, struck the 2022 Ford F350 driven by 34-year-old John Henry, of Newbern.
The 3-year-old passenger, and a 4-year-old passenger in the Hyundai were not using seat belts or child restraints at the time of the crash. Both were ejected from the car.
After the initial collision, the 3-year-old child was struck by an unidentified vehicle that did not stop or return to the scene. The toddler was pronounced dead at the scene.
Green and the 4-year-old passenger were both injured and taken to the hospital.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine car crashes are the number two cause of death in children and teens. The number one cause is firearm related deaths.
Car seat safety laws vary and can be confusing depending on your child’s age and weight. In Alabama, infants must remain rear-facing until one-year-old or they meet the height and weight required by the car safety seat’s manufacturer.
Children over two must remain in a front facing car seat until they meet the maximum height and weight requirement on their car safety seat.
After that, children must remain in a booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches in height, which is around 8 to 12 years old, and all children under 13 must ride in the backseat of the car.
All of these rules implemented by the state are put in place because children are more likely to be injured in a car crash.
“We’ve seen some pretty horrific car crashes that a child hasn’t has a scratch on them because they’ve been properly restrained in the car seat,” said Justin Whigham with Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue. “So that is a testament to its effectiveness and safety.”
The crew at Tuscaloosa Fire Station 1 is trained by SAFE Kids Alabama to install and inspect car safety seats. If you are unsure if your car seat has been installed correctly you can stop by and they will make sure it was installed safely.
Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Highway Patrol Division continue to investigate both crashes.