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Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a child in the back seat...
WaPo ^ | Sunday, March 8, 2009 | By Gene Weingarten

Posted on 03/17/2009 8:22:37 PM PDT by HaplessToad

The defendant was an immense man, well over 300 pounds, but in the gravity of his sorrow and shame he seemed larger still. He hunched forward in the sturdy wooden armchair that barely contained him, sobbing softly into tissue after tissue...

"Death by hyperthermia" is the official designation. When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just... forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall. The season is almost upon us...

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: childmurder
Long, sad read.
1 posted on 03/17/2009 8:22:38 PM PDT by HaplessToad
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To: HaplessToad
My question after reading the article was,
“What is the percentage of children who die
after being forgotten in the car who are
NOT day-care children ?”
This question is obvious but will
be shouted down.
2 posted on 03/17/2009 8:26:27 PM PDT by Bainbridge
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To: HaplessToad

Reminds me of a story from the Ragamuffin Gospel...


3 posted on 03/17/2009 8:29:36 PM PDT by proudpapa (Obama - The Worst One Ever!)
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To: Bainbridge

A companion question: how many kids are forgotten when they are in the front seat?


4 posted on 03/17/2009 8:30:43 PM PDT by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
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To: HaplessToad

This never happened back when kids never used child safety seats. This is where I place the blame. That and the stupid nanny state laws.

I rode in the front seat standing up. No seat belt. There’s no way I would’ve stayed in a hot car unattended. I woulda got out my own dam self.


5 posted on 03/17/2009 8:32:20 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: Morgana

I agree. I hate when we criminally charge parents for things like this. This was not done back a few decades ago. Things like accidents happened. People helped the parents cope with their terrible loss with kindness not a trial. I makes me sick they we put parents through this type of things. Nothing is gained by this but a freak show for the reality TV types.


8 posted on 03/17/2009 8:36:05 PM PDT by therut
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To: HaplessToad
This makes me so ill I can't stand to read the whole thing.


Can't someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!
9 posted on 03/17/2009 8:44:44 PM PDT by PetroniusMaximus
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To: Morgana

My dad had a station wagon with twin seats in the back that faced eachother, not towards the rear. And the back door opened like a tailgate on a pickup. He would put the tailgate down and we would ride on that.

I remember sleeping in the back of it on long trips. I also remember sleeping on the floor of the front seat area WITH the dog when I was really small.


10 posted on 03/17/2009 8:45:05 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: HaplessToad
I agree that this and all the others are tragic stories. But the bottom line is a child is dead due to an adult's negligence.

Sadly, this kind of tragedy is so easily preventable. If you forget your car keys...that may cause an inconvenience. But forgetting to take care of your child can have some pretty serious consequences. I have no doubt he is heartbroken but that doesn't change anything.

Had it been a daycare worker who had left a child on a daycare van...there would be hell.to.pay.

11 posted on 03/17/2009 8:54:05 PM PDT by TNdandelion (This should be fun.)
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: Morgana

The problem with letting him just go bury his baby, try to comfort the wife, try to forgive himself, try to keep his marriage together is that some evil person might decide to eliminate his child the same way and claim the same defence and we would have to let him go to.

I remember this case. I remember how it was described and the FReepers with whom I was mourning on line that afternoon. He ran out to the car and collapsed. I want him to not be punished because I can only imagine what hell he is living right now. And I think that that punishment is not only enough but too much.


13 posted on 03/17/2009 8:56:52 PM PDT by definitelynotaliberal
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To: Morgana
I am a firm believer that accidents do happen. He really did forget the child was back there. Maybe he thought the kid was with mom. who knows? My heart goes out to him, I know he did not mean to do this. There are people who mean to do a lot worse to kids, and we just let them out to do it again? This was truly an accident, why can’t we just chalk it up to that and let the poor man bury his baby?

I forgot to pick my daughter up at school one day....thinking about work....luckily all I had was an angry teacher waiting with her.

My wife was almost to work when our baby sneezed. Scary.

Both our kids are now just about raised. Lots of us are lucky, a few are very unlucky.

This problem is solvable with technology.
14 posted on 03/17/2009 9:01:07 PM PDT by Arkinsaw
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To: Bainbridge

While the combination of hectic work schedules and daycare no doubt play a role in these particular deaths, parents also loose children because of forgetfulness or being unaware of what the child is doing at home, too. And let’s face it, many of us did things as children that parents would be arrested for today, including riding in cars without seat belts, riding in the open bed of a pickup on a highway, riding bicycles without helmets, staying alone in the car while our parents went in to the store, and so on. And that pales in comparison to the childhood risks my parents, aunts, and uncle endured had during the Great Depression. Think about traveling with a baby in steerage on an ocean liner or living in a one room tenement with a baby and no air conditioning or hot running water. The world hasn’t gotten that much more dangerous but our tolerance for mistakes and risks has gotten a lot lower.


15 posted on 03/17/2009 9:09:38 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Morgana
Why don’t we just change the stupid laws and put the baby seat in the front seat like the good old days so we don’t freaking forget the baby in the first place?????????????

Because of other stupid laws that mandate high explosive air bags that can stop an adult without a seat belt that are able to kill even adults weighing under 120 pounds if they are unlucky. Thus we must keep all small humans out of the front seat because we aren't allowed to turn the airbags off.

16 posted on 03/17/2009 9:11:51 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Morgana
Remember the station wagons in the 70’s and 80’s??? We rode in those WITHOUT SEAT BELTS!

In the 50s I rode in cars THAT DIDN'T HAVE SEAT BELTS!

My first car -- I had to install the seat belts myself. (They saved my life soon after...)

17 posted on 03/17/2009 9:13:47 PM PDT by sionnsar (Iran Azadi | 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | "Tax the rich" fails if the rich won't play)
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To: PLMerite
A companion question: how many kids are forgotten when they are in the front seat?

This, I'm afraid, is the horrible calculus that few are willing to address.

How many kids in the front seat are killed in accidents vs. if they had been forgotten in the back?

I know one thing, however. These people's lives must be Hell on earth 'til their dying day. Can you imagine waking up in the middle of the night, year after year, hoping this is a sick nightmare, then realizing (again), that it's not?

Prayers for these children and their parents are in order.

18 posted on 03/17/2009 9:18:24 PM PDT by SnuffaBolshevik
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To: HaplessToad

I will not read it. I can imagine.

I just want to say that I am scatterbrained at times. But I would never forget my child in my car, and do you know why? Because he is ALWAYS with me. I am a stay-at-home-mom and my children are my #1 job, bar none.

I have a 7th sense since my first was born, and it’s the focus that is always there, making sure they are OK.

The only people that would forget their baby was in the car are people that are very often without their baby in the car.

What I forget, on the VERY FEW occasions he is not with me, is that I am not supposed to be in the carpool lane without him! Whoops! But a ticket beats losing my child to a horrible, preventable death.

I know the economy is terrible, but if at all feasible one parent should be with the kids.


19 posted on 03/17/2009 9:23:50 PM PDT by Yaelle
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To: Yaelle

“Because he is ALWAYS with me.”

I was that way for awhile. And when he wasn’t with me and I would glance in the mirror and “HE’S NOT THERE!!!! OH MY GOSH, where did I leave him... - oh wait, he’s at home.” (Sleep deprevation with newborn twins played a part too!)


20 posted on 03/17/2009 9:28:10 PM PDT by 21twelve (The Obamas have all the class of the Clintons and none of the charm.)
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To: Morgana

In the “good old days”, there was no problem with putting the car seat in the front seat. With the newer cars that have air bags, there is a big problem. Having that air bag explode in even a minor crash and hit the car seat will very often kill a child - sometimes by decapitation. That’s why many pickups have a switch to turn off the passenger side air bag. And before people start ranting about “stupid nanny state laws”, in over 30 years of EMT work I’ve seen a lot of people who are alive today because they had seat belts and air bags. I’ve also seen a lot of people who were dead because they didn’t bother with the seat belts and didn’t stay in the vehicle. And please, don’t get me started about what happens to un-restrained children. Yeah, I know, you and I survived - how many didn’t?


21 posted on 03/17/2009 9:30:46 PM PDT by Old Forester
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To: PetroniusMaximus; HaplessToad
This makes me so ill I can't stand to read the whole thing.

Can't someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!

The full article described a case that illustrated why a motion alarm might not always be effective.

Sleeping infants can be so absolutely silent that it is not hard to understand how this can happen sometimes after someone drives a long distance with them out of sight in the back seat. I never left my child in the car but I am a little absent-minded and I would have to say: "There but for the grace of God ..."

22 posted on 03/17/2009 9:36:14 PM PDT by wideminded
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To: 21twelve

LOL I’m also a SAHM/homeschooler and have a six year old. He talks so much that if he happens to be at home with dad while I’m running errands, I’m out of sorts the entire time. For me, forgetting my kids would be like forgetting to get dressed!!! But no judgment, I sure feel badly for someone who geniunely was a good parent and made a mistake like that.


23 posted on 03/17/2009 9:38:59 PM PDT by justsaynomore
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To: HaplessToad
I'm sorry, folks. Punishment enough? Seat Belt and Child Safety Seat laws? I just don't have any sympathy for this supposed "parent." Zero.

This was not an accident. This was negligence, criminal negligence.

This kind of story is an annual Summer news event, like the winter fires blamed on space heaters. And it is almost always a Child Care Provider, probably licensed by the state, who leaves a trusting toddler in the back of a 20 passenger bus to die of exposure.

My thoughts are with the child, the trusting innocence of the child who's last thoughts are hope against hope that someone, any one, will be along any moment now to rescue me from this discomfort. A child who cannot verbalize their trust, and who dies, not knowing they will not awaken again.

Sorry, folks. There are exceptions, there are accidents, there is also the deliberate ignorance that used to be called stupidity. This is why Justice should wear a blindfold, so we can't intervene to save someone from the consequences of being deliberately ignorant.

Is the government at fault? Yes, surely, more for its making the Extended Family obsolete than for its attempts to tie soft pillows to all the sharp edges of the world.

It's a good argument for the death penalty, too. We don't have a punishment that fits the crime, here. Send him to God and let Him decide what to do with him. From what I'm hearing on this site, tonight, it sounds very much as though a lot of people believe, as I do, that there are a lot worse things that can happen to you than losing your life...

The one thing I cannot do is "blame Society." Save that line for the applause comment on Oprah.

24 posted on 03/17/2009 9:44:38 PM PDT by Prospero (non est ad astra mollis e terris via)
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To: PLMerite; Morgana; Question_Assumptions; SnuffaBolshevik

The stats are that approximately 10 times as many children die each year from being forgotten in cars, as before these no-children-on-front laws started getting enacted. An additional factor is the increasing prevalence of dark windows, which are not allowed on the front seat driver/passenger side windows due to driver visibility, but are allowed for the back seat windows. Parents are forced to put their little ones in the back seat, and if there are dark windows, not only does this reduce the chance of the parent seeing/remembering the child as the parent gets out, but it also greatly reduces the chance of a passer-by noticing the child. In at least a few cases, a child has died after many hours in the back seat of a car in a very busy open-air parking lot (on one case a hospital parking lot!).


25 posted on 03/17/2009 9:50:50 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: PetroniusMaximus

Can’t someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!


Problem is that I’m guessing the tots/babies fall asleep in the car seats & then the once-in-a-million situation occurs—a parent walks away from car forgetting due to distraction, etc. So unless the alarm was connected to say a cell phone, don’t know how that would help.

I saw a woman drive away from a gas station with pump still engaged because she was on a cell phone. Broke pump and gas spilled all over!

Sadly, we may see more of these sad stories with the economic woes.


26 posted on 03/17/2009 9:56:44 PM PDT by bushwon
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To: Old Forester

The big problem with airbags is that they’re designed to protect an UNbelted large adult male. An adult male has a choice as to whether to fasten his seat belt or not, and sacrificing the lives of many children, as well as smaller adults (particularly women and fragile elderly) to save some @$$holes who refuse to buckle their seat belts, is just plain obscene.

I will never own a car with functioning airbags, and it pisses me off to no end that I can’t disable the airbags on rental cars. A simple one-touch disabling button should be standard equipment on any vehicle with airbags.


27 posted on 03/17/2009 9:57:11 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: PetroniusMaximus
Can't someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!

The article addressed this. Dad had it. The alarm kept going off, so he used the remote to deactivate it. Kid died.

28 posted on 03/17/2009 10:03:38 PM PDT by Caesar Soze
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To: bushwon

“Can’t someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!”

Been done. I saw a car ad on tv several years ago where a woman was advancing on her parked car in a dark empty lot and her key fob told her there was a heartbeat detected inside her vehicle and she ran away. This was some available option and I’m pretty sure it was for real.


29 posted on 03/17/2009 10:11:05 PM PDT by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
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To: PLMerite

Can’t someone invent a special interior motion car alarm that will solve this problem!!!!!!!!!!!”

Been done. I saw a car ad on tv several years ago where a woman was advancing on her parked car in a dark empty lot and her key fob told her there was a heartbeat detected inside her vehicle and she ran away. This was some available option and I’m pretty sure it was for real.


Interesting. If I was a young mom with babies/tots I would be interested in that sort of option. Just a really sad story, I feel for the parents. Can imagine no greater grief.


30 posted on 03/17/2009 10:20:32 PM PDT by bushwon
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To: GovernmentShrinker

“The big problem with airbags is that they’re designed to protect an UNbelted large adult male”

Actually, they are designed to be used in conjunction with seat belts. From the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission:
“# Frontal air bags do not eliminate the need for seat belts, but are a supplement to them.
# Occupants who are unbelted or seated too close to the frontal air bag module when the air bag deploys can be seriously injured or killed.”

Think about it. If you are unbelted in a crash, you are going to be right up against the air bag when it deploys. Consider what that will do to you.... If you want an even more graphic image, think about those passengers that like to ride down the highway with their feet on the dash...


31 posted on 03/17/2009 10:21:32 PM PDT by Old Forester
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To: Old Forester

The advice has always been to wear seatbelts even if the car has airbags (and state laws still require seatbelts anyway), but the reality of the level of force that was built in to airbags originally, was designed to protect an unbelted adult male. After enough people got killed and seriouly injured by airbags, the force was slightly reduced, but is still extremely dangerous.


32 posted on 03/17/2009 10:30:05 PM PDT by GovernmentShrinker
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To: HaplessToad
Balfour's eyes are impassive. Her attitude is clear:

You got a problem with that?
Yep, I do.
33 posted on 03/17/2009 11:03:20 PM PDT by Mariebl
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To: Mariebl
You got a problem with that?

Well, not with her keeping the car. But, a tremendous problem with her general attitude, no matter how the article sugar-coats it.
34 posted on 03/17/2009 11:05:45 PM PDT by Mariebl
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To: sionnsar
I read that Congress passed the seat belt law in 1966. States that didn't conform could lose highway funds.

Did any cars have seat belts in the 50s? Not that I can remember.

We have to take into account the number of cars on the road during that era compared with the gradual increase of vehicles on the highways today.

The traffic has grown tremendously and with it, risks become greater.

35 posted on 03/17/2009 11:10:00 PM PDT by IIntense
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To: PLMerite

It’s illegal to have a child in the front seat, because the Government Air Bag (not to be confused with a Democrat Senator) will kill children. (Just like a Democrat baby-killer, but still, not the same thing.)


36 posted on 03/17/2009 11:10:40 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: HaplessToad

Government’s answer to child safety in motor vehicles:

Step 1 - drug your child.
Step 2 - lock the child down in large plastic contraption.
Step 3 - fasten contraption in back seat away from any peripheral vision.
Step 4 - force child to stare at the upholstery throughout the trip until it is bored and falls asleep.
Step 5 - try to remember child is there once arriving at your destination like any other piece of luggage.


37 posted on 03/17/2009 11:11:52 PM PDT by OrangeHoof (YES WE CAN have a Depression.)
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To: Arthur McGowan

Yes, I know it’s illegal now. Dead kids in the backseat is one of the unintended consequences (or at least acceptable losses) of the nanny state.

How did any of us survive childhod without the government micromanaging our upbringings ?


38 posted on 03/18/2009 12:10:07 AM PDT by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
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To: Old Forester
Buckling up goes along with starting the engine, adjusting the mirrors, seat, and steering wheel with me. As I'm not the only one who drives the cars, this is routine before I leave the driveway.

Most of my life seat belts were not required and frankly, I wish I could skip that feature today. Nevertheless, I've used the seat belts for years.

As happened, six years ago my car was hit so forcefully on the passenger side that the car was thrown off the road, totally damaged.

When a passerby told me to stay in the car, I said, "Why?" I could see the car was smoking through the rear-view mirror and I got out of there!

My foot was injured...not drastically. Without my seat belt, it could have been much worse.

As I said, I totaled the car but not me.

39 posted on 03/18/2009 12:39:14 AM PDT by IIntense
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To: mamelukesabre

I was a child in the 60’s and Mom tells me the story of the day that I fell out of the car. She turned a corner, the door swung open and I was a toddler and tumbled out, landing in the snowy road...so bundled up in my snowsuit that there was nary a bruise or scratch.


40 posted on 03/18/2009 1:06:41 AM PDT by MTMS
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To: Arkinsaw
"My wife was almost to work when our baby sneezed. Scary."

The baby's guardian angel must have just then given him or her a little nose tickle with it's wing. :)

41 posted on 03/18/2009 3:06:05 AM PDT by Mila
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To: sionnsar
"In the 50s I rode in cars THAT DIDN'T HAVE SEAT BELTS!"

I know what you mean. When I was a child, my parents' had a 1950 something Ford. When out with my father I rode, with no seat belt, in the front seat next to him. The only protection I had at that time was my father's arm that would shoot out across me to brace me if the need arose.

42 posted on 03/18/2009 3:23:12 AM PDT by Mila
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To: bushwon
I saw a woman drive away from a gas station with pump still engaged because she was on a cell phone.

A picture of a car like this was on a thread about women drivers the other day. Every time I have almost been hit by a driver on a cell phone, it has been a woman.

43 posted on 03/18/2009 3:24:21 AM PDT by wideminded
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To: Yaelle

My sentiments exactly.
( Although I did read it.)


44 posted on 03/18/2009 6:02:47 AM PDT by Bainbridge
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To: Arthur McGowan
It’s illegal to have a child in the front seat, because the Government Air Bag (not to be confused with a Democrat Senator) will kill children.

Guess what? It's not "air" that's in the bag. Another government lie.

It's a Gas Bag.

45 posted on 03/18/2009 9:03:41 AM PDT by sionnsar (Iran Azadi | 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | "Tax the rich" fails if the rich won't play)
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To: Question_Assumptions

I know; I find it amusing that I’m told to NOT put my 12 year old boy in the front seat as the airbag might kill him, but he is TALLER than me, the driver!

Guess the airbag would kill me too.


46 posted on 03/18/2009 9:10:55 AM PDT by olivia3boys
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To: olivia3boys

If you are one of those people that can’t hardly see over the steering wheel, then yes, the airbag is dangerous to you. It will smack you square in the face instead of the chest as they are meant to, and can damage your neck. The other factor is weight. You need to weight enough to cause the air bag to compress when you collide with it. If you are so light that you bounce off the airbag, instead of compress it, it can break your ribs.


47 posted on 03/18/2009 3:49:20 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
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To: mamelukesabre

Well, I’m 5’4”, and my 12 year old son is 5’5”. We are both quite slim.

I just tell him to keep his seat all the way back, to not lean forward, and to stay buckled in. I read somewhere that no child (non infant) has so far DIED (injured, yes) via airbag as long as these 3 conditions are met.

I like having one kid next to me as I have 4 kids and when they are all crammed together in the backseat they fight like dogs.


48 posted on 03/18/2009 4:06:43 PM PDT by olivia3boys
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