Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this story, but in so many similar cases the outcome is tragic.
Your children are the most precious cargo you will ever transport in your vehicle. And yet, many people aren’t taking the time to follow the instructions that come with every car seat. Instructions that direct you on how to properly install the seat. Instructions that could mean the life of your child.
A Terrified Father
6-week-old Ezra Benitez was correctly strapped into his car seat. However, the base of the car seat wasn’t properly secured to the back seat of his parent’s Cadillac Escalade SUV. Then the unthinkable happened.
At about 9:30 pm on Sunday, December 8, 2019, while traveling southbound on Highway 99 at W Main Street, Ezra’s father, who was driving, rolled the SUV when he was forced to swerve to avoid another vehicle while attempting to make a turn. He was driving at approximately 45 to 65 miles per hour when the crash took place.
“That’s when I lost control and spun out of control and remember feeling weightless,” Ulizes Benitez said, “and just thinking of my kids, and my wife. So many things were going through my head.”
When the vehicle finally came to a stop, he turned to check on his kids in the back—6-week-old Ezra and his 2-year-old brother. Only to find Ezra was gone. All of the windows had smashed during the crash, and the baby had been hurled through one of them.
Benitez began to search, listening for the cries of his son but he couldn’t hear or see any sign of him.
“It was unreal, I couldn’t believe what was happening,” Benitez said. “Just thinking ‘Where is he?’ It was muddy. It was wet. I didn’t know if he was in the water somewhere. I didn’t know if he was on the road.”
The “Miracle” Baby
Before long, with the help of a first responder who Benitez hailed, they found Baby Ezra, still strapped into his seat, awake and unhurt. The seat had come to rest upright in a bush.
“He was awake,” Benitez said. “He just looked at us. He wasn’t crying. I holded him, I holded him. I was so… I can’t explain the feeling I got when they gave him back to me.”
Benitez says that one of the responding officers told him it was a one in al million chance that the baby landed as it did, upright and unhurt.
Following the crash, as a precaution, Ezra and his brother were transported via helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center. Two-year-old Elijah hurt his hand during the crash, but the two boys were released Monday night.
Car Seat Safety
Not all children are as fortunate as Ezra.
In the U.S. alone, 675 children under the age of 12 died in a car crash in 2017. Nearly 116,000 were injured. Of those who died, 35% of them weren’t properly buckled.
Research shows that about 85% of all car seats are improperly installed. We need to do better.
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Source: CBS13 Sacramento