A New Mexico mom is urging parents to be diligent about child safety seats after her husband and 9-year-old son were involved in a car accident.
Jen McLellan, a lifestyle blogger and podcast host, said she and her husband Chris had insisted their son Braeden continue using a booster seat despite his protests. In a Facebook post, McLellan says following the recommended guidelines for booster seat safety ultimately saved her son’s life.
“On Sunday I received the phone call you never want to get,” the Albequerque mom wrote. “A call from my husband that he and my son had been in a terrible car accident. I didn’t freak out until I arrived on the scene and couldn’t see my son. I finally saw him covered in a red drink, and for a few seconds, I mistook it for something else. Then I saw the car, and my heart stopped.”
McLellan’s husband had been en route to a friend’s house with the couple’s son when an SUV ran a red light and T-boned the family’s Hyundai Elantra. While the Elantra was totalled, Braeden walked away with only minor injuries.
“Paramedics were surprised how well my son was after seeing the car wreck. They said he would've been far more injured had he not been in a booster,” McLellan continued. “I can't tell you how many arguments I've had with my 9-year-old about him not wanting to be in a booster because his friends don't use one. I'm forever thankful I never budged.”
McLellan shared horrific photos from the crash, revealing the extensive damage done to the vehicle and the bruises across her son’s chest from his seat belt.
In an interview with Today, McLellan said she was told by paramedics that most children don’t fare well in similar accidents without boosters due to the placement of the seatbelt.
“His chest and neck bruising show how the booster kept him at the appropriate height,” she explained. Had he not been in a booster, the seat belt would have been at his neck and face.”
In Canada, booster seat legislation varies across the country, with many provinces stating that children should continue to use boosters until at least 4’9″ tall, a minimum of 80 pounds, and between the ages of 8 and 9.
According to AAA’s Safe Seats 4 Kids, adult safety belts are designed for 165-pound male adults, and can cause injury for children. Booster seats are designed as “pre-crash positioners” to help raise children so that safety belts fit correctly across the child’s hips and upper thighs. They also help children avoid head and neck injury by ensuring the belt is properly across the child’s chest and collarbone.
McLellan is hoping her story reaches other parents who may waiver on whether their older child requires a booster seat.
“I have one thing to ask of everyone reading this - keep your children in boosters for as long as possible. Please let that be the good that can come of this. More awareness of how essential boosters are for bigger kids - even if they don't think they are cool!”