What’s Wrong with this Tragic Baby-Death News Story?

Readers — Here’s a saadaffzfz
story from Australia
sure to make any parent shudder:

YOUNG mother Elizabeth Cardwell thought she was doing the right thing when she strapped her precious eight-week-old baby, wrapped in a blanket, into a hand-me-down car seat.

Her daughter, Isabella Rose, was still tucked inside her blanket when her tiny body was found by the road after a horror triple-fatal in December.

The State Coroner is now considering safety issues surrounding hand-me-down child restraints. 

The infant, who weighed only 3kg, died shortly after she was thrown from her baby car seat when the speeding Commodore she was travelling in slammed into a tree on Neurum Road near Kilcoy. 

Ms Cardwell, 19, and her boyfriend Greg Sanderson, 28, who was driving, were also were killed.

If you keep reading for another five paragraphs you’ll see another factor in this tragedy. Oh yeah, the driver was going FIFTY FIVE MILES PER HOUR OVER THE SPEED LIMIT!

But, heck, THAT can’t be the real reason the baby (and those other people) died, could it? It must be that the mom too cheap to buy a brand-new car seat (the one she bought was a year and a half old) and too stupid to know not to tuck the blanket around her! So go ahead and blame the mom, or the child restraints that  apparently stop working the second they become hand-me-downs. That’s what the media (and even government) do, because it’s so much more striking  than, “Ho hum. A speeder drove into a tree.”

As for the effect this kind of coverage has on our society? It’s crazy-making! It’s law-changing! As Ben Miller, a policy analyst at Common Good, points out: “Identifying the real, direct cause of an accident (reckless driving) is the first step toward solving it. Failing to do so (and blaming it on the car seat) lies at the root of so much litigation, regulation, and legal fear. Just imagine if society and government spent as much time and money addressing legitimate dangers and risks as we do obsessing over red herrings.”

But then, who would ever watch the news — or buy brand new car seats? A big shout out to Tim Gill at RethinkingChildhood.com for calling this story to our attention. – L.

File:Graveyard of Friends' Meeting House, Yealand Conyers - geograph.org.uk - 171042.jpg

Thank you, media types, for making sure moms feel guilty everything bad that happens.

75 Responses to What’s Wrong with this Tragic Baby-Death News Story?

  1. Melanie May 3, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    We also don’t know the first thing about whether the baby was fastened in properly, either. Most new moms don’t like to make their car seat straps as snug as they need to be because they don’t want to make baby uncomfortable. But unfortunately, that’s the only way they work. . .

  2. Tsu Dho Nimh May 3, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Looking at the photo of the car at the first link … that’s a wreck where all the safety harnesses in the world aren’t going to guarantee survival.

    Car seats are tested under NORMAL driving conditions and NORMAL accidents,

  3. QuicoT May 3, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    You tell ’em Lenore!…

    I just checked into this site for the first time in a couple of years and I love the way the style has evolved…

  4. Abby May 3, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    The issue isn’t the seat itself, the issue is incorrect seat usage. How could the baby be strapped in properly if wrapped in a blanket so tightly, in remained intact while being projected from a speeding car?

  5. David Veatch May 3, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    The link to the original story is broken in this article (at the time of this comment). You can find it here.

    @Abby, the issue isn’t even incorrect seat usage. The issue is traveling 55mph over the recommended speed at the curve. Reckless driving is the issue. It is likely that no amount of proper restraint, save Nascar level safety harnesses, would have saved them. Investigating Officer Senior Constable Barry Griffin, though he is apparently and misguidedly pleased that infant seat safety is being highlighted by this (I will NOT call it an “accident”) careless wreck, he does “admit” that “Having said that, in a minor incident (Isabella’s restraint) probably would have been sufficient but in that sort of crash – it was a big hit – it was never going to be sufficient.”

    I agree with Lenore (again). The reporting on this is as ridiculously stupid as most reporting on cycling deaths where you read that the cyclist wasn’t wearing a helmet when he or she died from being crushed by a fully loaded dump-truck. [sarcasm] Because, surely, a helmet would have helped… [/sarcasm]

  6. Jim Collins May 3, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    I’m in agreement that nothing is going to guarantee survival in a crash like that.
    When it comes to children’s car seats one thing has to be taken into consideration. Plastic breaks down with exposure to sunlight. I’ve seen several car seats used as baby carriers at picnics and other outings. If you remove the padding and notice a severe difference in the color of the plastic in the exposed areas I’d recommend replacing the seat.

  7. Orange Roughy May 3, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    My kids almost always had second hand car seats. A quick stop to the Cop Shop and an officer can come to your car and check if it is installed correctly.

  8. Uly May 3, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    In fairness, plastic does degrade and carseats do expire, which is why you shouldn’t use an older carseat. You shouldn’t put anything in between the child and the straps because they compress in a crash and basically make the restraints useless.

    This advice won’t help in that sort of epic crash, but it will help in more normal accidents.

  9. Warren May 3, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Bravo for the Nascar reference.

    Was not ejected from a speeding car, wase ejected from the impact. The amount of g force experienced by a 55mph collision is huge, now make that 55mph over the limit, and they are insane. This baby would have died no matter what.

    Can you see it on the side of the road now? The highway cop asking for driver’s license, ownership, insurance and proof of purchase for the carseat.

  10. Warren May 3, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    The cop check, is that mandatory where you are?

    Here they will hold goodwill clinics from time to time, just to help out.

  11. opsomath May 3, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    As an avid motorcyclist, this strikes a real chord with me. I am religious about my safety gear (helmet, leather, boots) but I know that all this will do is raise the minimum speed that is sure to kill me.

    All safety gear works the same way. Laboratory goggles will save your eyes if a stopper pops out of a flask; they will not save your eyes if someone accidentally causes a fuel-air explosion that sends 200mph glass shrapnel flying your way. Seat belts will keep you from being flung out of a car if you go off an on-ramp at 50mph; they will not save you from a 75mph head on collision.

    Us riders also suffer from wrong-thing syndrome in the media. A guy gets killed by a car violating his right of way, and the article focuses on his helmet or lack thereof. Good on y’all for redirecting the attention.

  12. Papilio May 3, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    This is called a news story? It is almost propaganda…

  13. mystic_eye_cda May 3, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Shouldn’t we be questioning the safety of seatbelts, since both adults died on impact (Unless I missed something, I can’t seem to access the first link only the second)?

  14. lollipoplover May 3, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Warren, they don’t accept carseat donations at Goodwill. You really can’t donate them anywhere.

    But let’s be honest- not even a carseat designed like Iron Man could hold up in this type of accident. Nor would it matter if your toddler was strapped into a seatbelt when a plane crashes into a million pieces.
    Speed kills, not carseats.

    This is just the blame game. Both driver and passenger died. Who else is left to blame?

  15. Warren May 3, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    For the driver a seatbelt is a must, there is no doubt about that. When a driver has to react to something, and with the traffic it happens more and more, that driver needs a stable platform, from which to do it. You cannot keep control of you vehicle as well, when forces are throwing you around. With seat belts you keep better control of the wheel, brakes and accelerator.

    I am all for personal safety being the choice of the person. As a driver, it is definitely my choice, to control my car as best I can.

  16. Laura May 3, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Speeding caused the accident but it seems that being improperly restrained caused the baby to be thrown from the car. Unless the car seat was many years old and/or in a bad accident before, being used has nothin to do with it. People here have mentioned plastic deterioration, there are far too many factors involved to assume that happens to all carseats, or was even a factor here (unless the seat was many years old),.

  17. Brian May 3, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Car seats themselves do not even improve safety very much. Seat belts of a parent’s lap work just as well in most cases. All the studies compare un-belted children to car seats.

    As for used seats/degrading plastic. The odds of your child being injured in a car crash because the plastic on the car seat was degraded from the sun is effectively 0%. You have a much better chance of winning the lottery.

    The whole thing is nothing but propaganda by car seat manufacturers. They partner with those who want to make it as hard as possible for people who live in inner cities can’t travel to suburbs. It also helps sell ever bigger cars and to act as a tax on the poor who dare to have children.

  18. Brian May 3, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    And to reduce the number of people who carpool. That helps make sure 2 income families are punished.

    You could argue that the increase in the number of cars/size of cars needed to comply with these rich person rules probably cause more deaths than if there were no car seat rules at all.

  19. Christine Hancock May 3, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I agree. This is a prime example of stupid reporting. What idiot drives that fast? And what idiot thinks any car seat would have saved a baby in that kind of crash. I’m telling you, you wrap a car around a tree while exceeding 50 MPH, the chances of any survivors, no matter the safety equipment, is slim. Do think the “baby gear” lobby had anything to do with this story?

  20. Tim Gill May 3, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Thanks for the shout-out, Lenore. Aside from showing people’s crazily skewed risk maps (blaming the death on a used restraint rather than crazy reckless driving) for me this tragic tale also shows just how deep the car culture runs in many rich nations. It’s taken as read that folk will speed – that’s what everyone does – so why bother even discussing it?
    Take a wider view: In the US in 2011, over 30000 people were killed on the roads . Over the last decade the total was about 400,000. Over the next decade, we can be pretty sure the total will be at least 200,000.
    The car is a consumer product. We like it because it helps us do stuff. But is there any other consumer product where we would say we like it so much that we are prepared to tolerate hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next ten years?

  21. Sarah in WA May 3, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    “YOUNG mother Elizabeth Cardwell thought she was doing the right thing . . . ”

    How do we know what she thought? She was killed! Did she think her boyfriend did the right thing when he decided to drive 55 mph over the speed limit??

    This is horrible reporting. Basically, the driver made a horrible mistake (for whatever reason) and caused a crash that put everyone’s chance at survival at about zero. And now everyone else is supposed to become a car seat nazi in order to feel like a good parent.

    It would just be too easy to say DON’T GO 55 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT!

  22. Becky May 3, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Let me play the Devil’s advocate on this site for once. I don’t have a huge issue with the article. I think it highlights a number of issues that new parents do have to be aware of. Here on this site we are always contrasting how unlikely a predator attack on our children would be, by contrasting it with the relative likelihood of a car accident. Car accidents ARE something that we should try to protect our children from. One way we do that is by making sure that prospective parents are educated regarding proper safety systems to use with their children.

    As someone who recently had a baby, I can tell you that it was stressed to me a number of times (in books, pre-natal classes, and in online articles) that of all the baby items you can enjoy as hand-me-downs, one of the few you should be wary of are car seats. They did not say you could never utilize used car seats, but that you should check them out to make sure they had not been recalled, make sure you have their installation manual, etc. Another thing that was stressed was that installation is not intuitive. It took my husband a good hour to figure it out, and he’s no dummy. Just to be certain we had everything right, we took our cars to the local fire department to have our installation checked out. We knew that this service was offered free to the public through a number of communications. Then, if you get into the literature, including the baby seat manuals, it will tell you not to wrap your baby in a blanket or put them in any bulky clothes because it cuts down on the ability of the seat to properly protect the infant. Living in Michigan, and having a baby during the winter, this was troublesome for us, but we did it.

    However, not everyone takes the classes, or reads the books or scours the internet for baby information. Not everyone thinks that it’s necessary to be that well informed. These people could miss out on some car seat related information that might be the difference between saving their children’s lives in an acciddent. If some agency in Australia or elsewhere wants to start an initiative to make parents more aware of the potential benefits of proper safety seat usage – this is something that I am 100% in favor of.

    Now, that being said, I don’t think anyone could have survived the crash at issue (properly installed seat or not). As such, we should treat this article as giving the best possible advice to parents – Don’t Drive Stupid! It could get you and your baby killed.

  23. pentamom May 3, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    I really think I must be blind, or was the story edited? I can’t find where the speed is mentioned anywhere. Can someone please paste in the paragraph that refers to it so I can see what I’m missing?

  24. pentamom May 3, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    “The car is a consumer product. We like it because it helps us do stuff. But is there any other consumer product where we would say we like it so much that we are prepared to tolerate hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next ten years?”

    Getting around has always been dangerous. If it wasn’t the vehicle (and it often was — horses can run away or lose their footing, too, and they’re easily frightened into dangerous behavior) it was the level of crime on the roads.

    The factor to consider isn’t “how many people die” but “how many people die who wouldn’t have died if we didn’t have cars.” I’m not sure it’s really that high a number.

  25. Warren May 3, 2013 at 11:53 am #


    Ontario already has such initiatives. The provincial police, the fire dept’s will all inspect your child seat, and it’s installation, should you ask them. The provincial police will even hold parking lot workshops, that you can drop into.

    Most if not all automakers, on all but some select sports class vehicles, already have the proper fasteners installed.

    Myself, I installed my own childseats, in all my vehicles, including my company service trucks. Very understanding employers. Took less than 15 mins, each time. The first time was with my Dad’s help, because before the baby was born we fitted and tried the seat in his two cars as well. It is not rocket science. And if one finds it difficult, or trying, then take your car to a dealership.

    You say you are from Mich. which climate wise is not much different than Ontario. This whole thing with winter clothing is bunk. If you have you child strapped in properly, you would need a huge amount of g force to compress the clothing enough to make it an issue. This warning is in the manual as a cover your ass, and get us out of lawsuit tactic.

    The books, seminars, and so on are enough. We do not need gov’ts making required lessons, classes or whatever. They control enough.

  26. Claudia May 3, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    So the boyfriend was speeding to a massive degree and the article starts by focusing on the *mother’s* culpability? Outrageous.

    What a horrible attitude to take to a terrible tragedy. RIP all concerned.

  27. J.T. Wenting May 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    “Failing to do so (and blaming it on the car seat) lies at the root of so much litigation, regulation, and legal fear. ”

    which is the real reason, politicians rule because people fear a situation without rulers more than one with rulers, and lawyers live on litigation fees (and remember most politicians are lawyers, or were lawyers before becoming politicians and will go back to legal practice once thrown out of their seats in parliament).
    IOW they have every reason to blame things they can legislate, regulate, and sue, and none to blame the obvious because that’s already regulated…

    In addition to that, people have a tendency to seek to not blame the dead for accidents (unless it’s a company trying to blame the victim for the failure of their product, as is commonly the case with airliner accidents where the blame usually ends up on the heads of the dead pilots, saving the airline and manufacturer billions in lawsuit payouts).

  28. ifsogirl May 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    We just had a terrible car accident near my home that killed 5 people, one of which was a baby. The vehicle was hit by another vehicle doing well over the speed limit. The vehicle was torn in half and all the occupants died on impact. Sadly the baby was thrown from the vehicle but was found still in her car seat.

    Here it is illegal to sell second hand car seats. Anyone can hand one down to a friend or family member, My first one formy first child was a hand me downa and it worked fine. A used car seat that is still within it’s expiry date is safe, excessive speed is not.

  29. TaraK May 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Those of you who are degrading the mother for using a used car seat missed one important fact. The car seat was only a year and a half old. They are designed to last 5-6 years depending on the manufacturer. The point wasn’t the used car seat, that’s what the “scary media” is saying. The point was that she was driving terribly recklessly (or perhaps had a medical emergency causing her to press down on the gas, or perhaps the car malfunctioned) and they died. The point was NOT the used car seat!

  30. CLamb May 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Quite clearly the problem was her used boyfriend. His previous partner should’ve provided her with a warning, “It is dangerous to be in a vehicle when this man is driving!”

  31. Michelle May 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I get –so– tired of hearing about car seats. I use them. I totally agree that they’re necessary. But I can’t believe that they automatically become death traps after the first year. (And if that’s the case, what about the seatbelts in our 20 year old car?)

    When it was time to take my youngest son home from the NICU, the nurses threw a fit about my “second hand” car seat, claiming that it was too old and it was the wrong type. We’d purchased it fifteen months earlier for his older brother, who was the exact same weight when he came home from the hospital. They finally gave in after I showed them the manufacture date on the back and offered to bring in the sales receipt.

    That seat, which was the only option available at the time for my premature son’s weight, cost $250. And it was a normal seat from Walmart. A second hand or hand-me-down seat might not be the best option, but it’s sure better than nothing. I can see why Goodwill doesn’t accept them, but I don’t see any problem with getting a seat from someone who you trust and can tell you its history.

  32. A Dad May 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    There are 2 factors that are important in the death of the infant
    1. The speed of the car
    2. Possible Improper restraint

    No where in the article did it say that the car seat failed – the child was not restrained properly. That the car seat was 1.5 years old and 2nd hand is not a factor.

    Still, even if the child had been properly restrained, would she have survived the accident. An adult did. That is a question we will never be able to answer.

  33. JJ May 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Pentamom “The factor to consider isn’t “how many people die” but “how many people die who wouldn’t have died if we didn’t have cars.” I’m not sure it’s really that high a number.”

    Interesting concept though I don’t necessarily agree. Take for instance if I commuted to and from work everyday for 25 years by car v by light rail I’d surely be statistically many many more times likely to die. Yet I am sure much more would have to go into measuring how many more or less people would die without cars.

  34. pentamom May 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Public transportation is a good thing, but it is not possible for it to replace cars entirely. Not everyone lives where it is practical, and it’s not suitable for many kinds of non-daily trips.

    Now if you want to argue that people should use cars *less* for safety reasons that might well be a good argument. But that’s a different argument from “cars are just too dangerous, we could never accept their existence if we treated them like other things.” We would accept their existence, but we would use them more sensibly, not eschew them entirely.

  35. anonymous this time May 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    “The car is a consumer product. We like it because it helps us do stuff. But is there any other consumer product where we would say we like it so much that we are prepared to tolerate hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next ten years?”

    Refined Sugar

    Everything in moderation, folks. Including speed.

  36. Katie May 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m not buying (literally and figuratively) that a new car seat is any better than an old car seat. Actually given my experience with others things and the cheap quality of today’s products I think older products are often better. I’d give 100x more confidence to it if it was made in the USA (even many many years ago) verses if it was made in China by a 10 year old.

    Okay, I know this isn’t directly related to kids or car seats, but let me give you an example of something I can speak on related to the quality today verses of things many years ago. I watched them several years ago put up new condo’s…only to know watch them tear them all down because they were built so improperly they were considered unsafe. Yet, there are buildings from the 50’s and 60’s still functioning great.

    Besides haven’t we all had the experience of something new arriving only to find it arrive broken.

    New is better than used it only in the head’s of a culture that has been brainwashed into buying cheap junk rather than buying quality.

  37. BL May 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    “New is better than used it only in the heads of a culture that has been brainwashed into buying cheap junk rather than buying quality.”


  38. Crystal May 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    I have a degree in journalism, and one of the very first “rules” we learned freshman year was the following: never EVER write what someone was thinking unless he/she actually told you so. That hook is terrible reporting!

  39. Tim Gill May 3, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    My earlier point about the car culture isn’t that I think cars are evil. It’s that we’ve become habituated to the threat that they pose. When cars first appeared on streets in the 1910s and 20s, and first started causing death on a large scale (especially to children) there were riots and street marches. Thanks in part to the efforts of insurers and other business interests, the responsibility for safety – and the blame for accidents – was shifted from drivers to children, parents and pedestrians. Viviana Zelizer’s book Pricing the Priceless Child and Peter Norton’s book Fighting Traffic tell the story in more detail.

  40. Papilio May 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    For all WE know, she wasn’t thinking at all…

  41. Papilio May 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    @Tim Gill: “When cars (…) first started causing death on a large scale (especially to children) there were riots and street marches.”

    That is the situation that made the Dutch look for alternatives:

    (Sorry for the double post)

  42. Krista May 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    I also “love” how the article has to focus on the fact she was a “teen” mom. What does her age have to do with any of this!?

  43. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt May 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    When we had our first kid, we were told that we HAD to get a new car seat — anything used, particularly one that was more than a year old, was hopelessly outdated and positively dangerous. We got a free one off free-cycle, and it’s lasted us five years. No complaints!

    Don’t get me wrong — I think car seats are a good invention that has helped prevent injuries and death. But let’s not pretend that anything can protect us from our own misjudgments and stupidity (like driving 50 mph over the speed limit). And let’s also not let car seats paralyze us into thinking that we can’t go anywhere unless we have the most up-to-date car seat available. My brothers and I wrestled in the back seat of our station wagon growing up and managed to survive…

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  44. Donna May 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    “The car is a consumer product. We like it because it helps us do stuff. But is there any other consumer product where we would say we like it so much that we are prepared to tolerate hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next ten years?”

    Cars don’t actually cause deaths. Improper driving causes deaths. If everyone drove properly, very few people would die in cars. So we are not tolerating hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by a CONSUMER PRODUCT. We are tolerating hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the improper use of the product by the CONSUMER.

  45. Jenn May 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    It is nearly impossible in Ontario to buy a carseat secondhand or to donate one to a charitable organization. My husband had a minor car accident so we had to replace the car seats. My daughter used hers for just over a year when she outgrew it and according to the expiration label on it, there was still another five years of use on it. (For those who don’t have young kids, most car seat manufacturers can’t guarantee the plastic components of a car seat past a 5-7 year limit- and I wouldn’t want to use a car seat past that date as insurance companies may not cover you if you have been in an accident, if it was a serious one, I would want to have full access to coverage). So, we thought it would be helpful to donate the seat to a charity with young moms, or a shelter, or a day care centre. We thought one of the agencies or a needy family could use it. No one would take it. We asked the charities to give our number to any family that looked like was in need but they couldn’t do that either! We tried at churches and schools, but no one could help us. We tried selling but no one would take it (even when we posted that it was free). We asked friend and family (most people we knew were already set up with car seats, otherwise they would have taken us up on the offer). My mom eventually had a neighbour who wanted a spare seat for the grandparents so we were able to give them our seat.

    The whole experience made us wonder about the environmental implications of car seat safety. I completely agree that car seats are a necessity but I think that it’s gone over the top with expiration dates, insurance companies and company liabilities that we have landfills full of old car seats.

  46. Eliza May 3, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    What I find upsetting about this story is that a family’s tragedy is used as propaganda. Nothing wrong with using a second hand baby car seat, as long as you know the history of the seat, such as, if it’s been in an accident or the belt has any wear or tear. Saying that speeding will not protect anyone in a crash. Can someone convert the miles to Kilometers?

  47. Warren May 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

    100kph is aprox 60mph

  48. Donald May 3, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    News is a form of entertainment. I focuses on, ‘how can I pitch this story to stir up the most emotions?’ Emotional content is the priority because there are so many gullible people that love the emotional roller coaster ride. Realism takes a back seat. (and it’s backing up further all the time)

    People that believe news reports 100% is like people that believe ‘All Star Wrestling’ is realistic.

    I still remember the same newspaper reporting about how incompetent the mayor is because he hasn’t yet upgraded Bruswick St train station.

    One week later, it reported how incompetent the mayor is because the public will be inconvenienced by the Bruswick St upgrade when the work will commence next week!

  49. Donald May 3, 2013 at 11:38 pm #


    A police speed analysis at the crash site found the car was travelling at 118km/hour as it approached the bend, despite signage advising motorists to slow to 40km/hour.

    78 km/hr = 48 miles/hr

    The mention of speed was stated AFTER the reporter started blaming the 2nd hand baby seat as the cause. This way the story gets more exciting. We have something to blame! Car crashes are too common and therefore boring.

  50. CrazyCatLady May 3, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    From reading the story here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/grieving-mothers-plea-just-slow-down/story-e6frg6n6-1226216754624 I am literally shocked that that 4th passenger was able to survive at all. He must have been positioned in a very lucky manner.

    And honestly, while I know the baby seat will give some added support, that car just looked flat. I would be amazed if they found that there was no damage to the car seat.

    And really, anything, anything at all that doesn’t come with a manual, you can find one online. Obscure, 75 year old tools – you can find manuals online. I am SURE that every infant car seat has one online as well if people take a chance to look. Which we don’t know if the mother looked at or not – it could be she had, but decided to swaddle the baby anyhow (based on comments from above link where grandmother talks about how the baby liked to be wrapped up tight.)

    And honestly, if you have 3 different child safety seat inspectors look at your seat (from different organizations) they each will find something that is not right. The tilt of the base, the latch system, the retractable seatbelt needs a clip…it IS rather close to rocket science with the newer cars. Even with my old, lap belt only in the back seat vehicles, they still told me the tilt was off. At least at one place, but not the next.

    Point is, we all do the best we can. I am pretty sure that this mother either forgot or ignored warnings she was given about not wrapping the baby. You are not even supposed to put baby in a winter coat on the baby in the vehicle. When I lived in MT and was a poor grad student’s wife, I did put on coats and cinched it tight each time. I had to because being a poor grad student, we couldn’t afford a vehicle with good heat AND 4 wheel drive to get us around town on the roads that were not plowed all winter.

  51. missjanenc May 4, 2013 at 1:24 am #

    So how does a 1.5 year-old, second-hand carseat wear out and be rendered useless in a high-impact crash??

  52. Havva May 4, 2013 at 1:37 am #

    @ Let_Her_Eat_Dirt,
    I was with you right up until you said “My brothers and I wrestled in the back seat of our station wagon growing up and managed to survive.”
    What exactly did you survive while doing that, a parking lot fender Bender? I survived a highway speed collision with a parked car. I was 8 and wearing only a lap-belt, over my belly as much as my hips. The belt dug in hard and was hurting so I took it off before the first responders arrived. The first thing they did upon opening my door was look for my belt. And when they saw the belt was off, the reaction was anything but a survived fine without.. It was oh God we have to move adead child to extract

  53. Eliza May 4, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    @Warren, thanks for the conversion.

  54. Havva May 4, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    Sorry…phone pre maturely posted. They had to move me to get to my mother, and neither wanted to look at me. There is nothing quite like being mistaken for dead.

    Obviously, I survived, but I was seriously injured, and it took a long time before I could walk, or stay awake long enough to go back to school.

    So let’s not have too much romance for the safety gear free past. “We all survived it,” because we were lucky, and the dead don’t leave comments, just statistics. Statistics still put cars as my top concern for child safety.

  55. Taradlion May 4, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    I know this didn’t happen in NYC, but here, many people will use hand-me-down carseats because sometimes, in addition to never being in a crash, they have barely been used. For my daughter, I had a 2nd hand infant carseat from a friend. They didn’t have a car and we didn’t have a car. When not in use (for rentals for out if town trips) it was protected from the sun in a closet. When my son was born, I did but a new one. The one we had was “old” and carseats had improved to have 5 point (instead if 3 point) harnesses. That carseat was given to a friend. My son outgrew it before 4 months (20lbs). Never in an accident, rarely in a car. That doesn’t mean I would buy one at a yard sale (if I had a yard).

    Over on the Facebook page I read a comment from someone “signing off of this community” which she otherwise found helpful because Lenore had, in her opinion, lumped correct use of carseats into overprotective measures. I didn’t read it that way. The fact is, the baby could have been in a state of the art, brand new, professional car seat and if THAT had been the case, then maybe the blame would not be placed on the “young mother.”

    Thinking back of few posts, I could say, “nothing bad happened to me or my brother when we ride in second hand CARS without seatbelts, or the back of our station wagon laying down on top of sleeping bags on top of luggage.” But, I would not ride this way with my children because, the risk does not out weigh the benefit. It was “fun” (actually it was uncomfortable) but it didn’t build confidence or independence. It was the way it was. In fact, I grew into an adult that wears a seatbelt. My mom was saved by a seatbelt in a bad accident. I know nothing bad happened to me or my brother because we were not in an accident.

    When we talk here about taking (MINOR) almost minute risks by giving our kids freedom, or the risk is something a child can recover from and learn from (burns while cooking or using a glue gun, cuts from jack knives, bruises or broken arm from falling at the playground), that is different. Helmets and carseat a do not impede learning skills. That was not the point. The point is reporting on what this mother did wrong/not good enough- other than saying she should not have gotten in the car with a lunatic- is not helpful. This was tragic, senseless, but should not be about how better safety equipment and lack of carseat education (the newest the best and the perfectly used) would have prevented this.

  56. baby-paramedic May 4, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    I live in the area where this occurred. I read the full coroner’s report. Fitting baby capsules are something the paramedics do here.
    The issue was this
    1. The baby was placed in a blanket in the carseat
    2. The mother did not have the manual.
    The belief was, if the mother had access to the manual, and had read it, she would have known not to put the blanket around the baby and then restrain.
    So, now all our carseats are meant to be sold with a little plastic manual tucked underneath, that cannot be removed from the seat, that mention stuff like this.

    Ensuring the manuals are kept with the carseats has probably saved lives. Why we didn’t do it before I don’t know, but this way it can show the proper restraints and proper fitting. Much better than when we are given a capsule without a manual, and have to figure out how to put it in by ourselves! Tricky business!

  57. pentamom May 4, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks, Donald. I’m not disputing the numbers, but I’m still confused as to where people are reading this? The article Lenore linked to does not contain any speed numbers at all. What’s the source?

    I’m not saying I need a source to believe it, I’m just confused as to what other people seem to be reading that I am not seeing.

  58. Donna May 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    A few years ago in my town, a toddler died in a high speed rear-end collision. The Honda civic in which the boy was a backseat passenger pulled over and stopped for an ambulance. It was struck by another vehicle traveling 60+ miles per hour. Both backseat passengers died, while, in the nature of rear-end collisions, both front seat passengers were virtually injury-free.

    It was determined that the carseat that the boy was in was not properly installed. Everytime asked about the carseat, law enforcement responded with “it doesn’t matter. There is no way the child would have survived this accident.” The mother had also improperly pulled over for the ambulance – didn’t need to on the particular road. Neither she nor the guy who hit her was charged with anything. Of course, half the people who commented on the articles insisted that everyone needed to be arrested because a boy died, but I always appreciated the way this was handled by local law enforcement. It was treated as what it was – a horrible accident.

    Here clearly the driver deserves the blame for killing everyone. The focus should not be on the “young mother” and what she did. And the secondhand carseat and blankets are irrelevant. The child died because it was in a catastrophic accident that killed almost everyone else in the vehicle. Leave it at that and let the family of the mother and child grieve without being in the center of a carseat crusade that has nothing really to do with the accident.

  59. Emmy May 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I have a bit of an issue with this story, but not because of all the blames and what ifs and mistakes. While I completely understand why Lenore shared this story, part of me wishes she didn’t. I’m a brand new mom, and I have been going out of my way to avoid stories like this. Why should I be worrying about all the terrible things that happen to babies? Why should I be fretting and focusing on such things? Not blaming Lenore at all, just saying.

  60. Tsu Dho Nimh May 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    No one said a car seat is going to be 100% effective … it merely reduces the odds of death.

    Used or not, blanket or not … that was a collision at almost 3x the recommended speed (118kph versus 40, or 75mph versus 25) smack into a tree.

    A car seat is designed to restrain a child against the normal forces of a collision – these will be basically parallel to the ground, and at right angles to the straps, even in a spinning collision. With a rear-facing seat, the back of the car seat takes the main impact.

    In a high-speed frontal collision with a fixed object, the rear of the car can flip up and the forces will not be against the straps or the back of the seat, they will be centrifugal (car is trying to do a front flip), which can eject the child out the top of the seat even if they are well-secured.

  61. Papilio May 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    @Emmy: Just don’t speed.

  62. Buffy May 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    @Emmy, you also have the ability to know what bothers you and to pick and choose what to consume. If you know that a certain topic bothers you, then you can avoid that topic, whether it be TV, movies, articles, books, or blog posts.

  63. J.T. Wenting May 5, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    “I’m not buying (literally and figuratively) that a new car seat is any better than an old car seat. Actually given my experience with others things and the cheap quality of today’s products I think older products are often better. I’d give 100x more confidence to it if it was made in the USA (even many many years ago) verses if it was made in China by a 10 year old. ”

    a lot of people get paid a lot of money to invent “evidence” to show that anything preowned is by definition bad…
    Child seats are just part of that. Same goes for the cars themselves, that’s where “clunkers for cash” came from, which saw massive numbers of nearly new cars trashed rather than resold for no other reason than to get rid of the stockpiles sitting in manufacturer yards and warehouses using government subsidies.
    Bans on reselling (or even giving away) child seats have mostly the same reason, using emotional arguments and carefully selected tidbits of data to “prove” their point.

  64. yourmindinbloom May 5, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Thank you for sharing this story. Here in CT the laws say that car seats can’t be resold. However, many people I know do get second hand car seats and many people, once they are done, leave them on the curb. Another thing the article fails to point out is that many time car seats go through siblings. For all we know, she got the car seat from a relative. They are expensive. Not knowing all of the details in this case, usually media only gives about 10%, it seems that there was more going on here than a used car seat.

  65. Jynet May 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    BESIDES the fact that strapped in properly or not this crash was probably not survivable:

    I’m sorry, but I’m confused. There was a 28 year old man (the father?) in the car as well, but he was not responsible for making sure the baby was strapped in properly?

    Why is it the “young” mother’s fault?

  66. pentamom May 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Likely if the mother is referred to and “her boyfriend” without calling him the father, he wasn’t.

  67. CrazyCatLady May 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Emmy, here are somethings you can do to feel better because you probably already do them.

    Drive the under the speed limit, just a little, or a lot if the weather is bad. Make sure you use your own seat belt. Look up online the owner’s manual for your babyseat if you don’t have it. Make sure you read the manual and do what it says. Get a second opinion from a safety check point if you want. Otherwise, drive defensively and ensure that the drive does for any car that you are in.

    I got the impression from the stories that the baby liked to be swaddled. I really suspect that at some point someone told this mother that you don’t wrap the baby in a blanket and then strap it in. I think the mother CHOSE to do what she did, figuring that like every other car ride in her life, things would be fine.

    But, even if she did choose, the blame here does not really lie with her. It goes to the driver who was going way too fast. As safety experts said in the story, in a minor crash, the baby would have been fine.

  68. Aurora May 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    To those of you that say no matter what the child would not have survived.

    My cousin, his wife & his mother-in-law were killed when a pipe hauler fell ON TOP of their van. Their children SURVIVED. The van was CRUSHED!

    Don’t tell me children, PROPERLY restrained, cannot survive horrific accidents. I’ve seen it happen!

  69. Karen May 6, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Okay–so I used the same car seat with my daughter that I had used for her older brother two years earlier. Most would say that was okay, yes? But if I’d had no second child and instead had given the car seat to a friend who used it within that same time frame SHE would have been a negligent mom using a dangerous used child seat? That doesn’t make sense.

  70. Warren May 6, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    There is a huge difference between the accident you desribed, and the one in question.

    The g forces alone would have been enough to kill this child. Those g forces do incredible damage, that is not outwardly noticed, they are all internal.

    You are comparing apples to oranges.

    Beside that, you have my sympathy for your family’s loss.

  71. Merrick May 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Karen– generally the rule is don’t use a second hand seat that you don’t KNOW the history of…. if a trusted friend or family member offers you up their gently used, unimpacted, unexpired seat — no problem.

    If you find it in a thrift store, you have no idea if it has been in an accident and thus suffered forces that could cause it to fail in the next impact.

    A lot of people don’t know that their seat can be damaged by an impact and donate it, or sell it.

  72. Natalie May 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    For all the expiration date conspiracists…
    Car seats are made of polymers. Polymers are long molecules that can move, even if the object they make is solid. They also have a bunch of additives that can leach out over time (BPA anyone?) and change the properties of the material. Things made from polymers are not stable and their structure will change over time leading to eventual failure. When will this happen? Two days? two years? Two hundred years? It depends. Temperature cycling, UV exposure, stress,, strain, impact, all affect the lifetime of that product and its ability to function properly in time of need. I would take those expiration dates seriously. They’re not there to generate sales. They are there to prevent failure in the event that a child would be thrown from the seat.

    Think of it like milk. You could drink it past the expiration date, and it could be fine. Companies do have liability. But you could also get a mouthful of sour milk. It depends on how the milk was stored up until that point.

    Got polymers?

  73. Jenna K. May 8, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    I truly think that people need to focus less on car seat use and laws and focus more on safe driving. Car seats are great and increase the safety. But it’s like with bike helmets. When people started wearing helmets, they took greater risks. I feel it’s the same way with car seats. Now that everyone has their children strapped down akin to a Nascar driver, they are less focused on safe driving because they erroneously believe that their children are safe simply because they are correctly strapped in. So many people do not drive safely anymore. They don’t check blind spots. They drive too fast. Here, there is a highway where the speed limit is 60mph. It’s rare to find anyone going that slow. Most people drive 80 on that highway. And I rarely ever see anyone pulled over. People drive distracted–they are putting on makeup, eating, talking on a cell phone (even a hands-free device is still distracting), texting, shaving, etc.

    The thing is that most people think that it will never happen to them. They drive and do stupid things while they’re driving because they think that they are somehow immune to something bad happening. I know this because my husband is this way. That is why we have a huge life insurance policy on him because no matter how much I beg him to slow down and to not text while he’s driving, he thinks he can do it because he’s a “better driver” than others out there. That is why I rarely let him take the kids anywhere and why I always drive when we go somewhere together. I have actually taken the phone out of his hand while he was driving and texting with the whole family in the car and was yelled at for taking his phone. It’s because he thinks he’s superhuman and I think that’s how many people think.

    Wreckless driving is a bigger problem than even improperly restrained children.

  74. Tena B June 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    O.k. let me get this straight. People are saying that not only was speed a factor in this infants death, but also because of the mother using a car seat that was a year and half old. First of all, it’s quite possible she had the car seat inspected, and was told that it was safe to use. We shouldn’t pass judgement on this mother, without knowing all the details first. Secondly, if the car seat was unsafe after only a year and a half of use, am I a negligent parent too? After all, I have been using my daughters car seat for almost 2 years now. If that makes me a bad mother, then so be it. Can’t we just mourn the loss of this family without all the negativity?

  75. grandmother of isabella August 15, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I am just seeing this for first time U should all know Isabella and her mother Elizabeth deaths were caused by speed 118km around a corner marked at 40kmh I drove a car with Isabella in the blanket in the restraints for 2000km and she never moved once (same car seat) it was the idiot driving that caused thier deaths and no one or anything else. The lesson to be learned from our tradgedy is do not speed!