A story has resurfaced online of a mother urging parents to use booster seats for their children after her six-year-old daughter was involved in a serious car accident.
In September 2016, Samantha Swartwout was riding in the back seat of her father’s car without a booster seat when they suddenly veered off the road and hit a tree. In addition to suffering a concussion and a fracture of her L4 vertebrae, the impact of the crash caused Swartwout’s seatbelt to slice into her stomach.
“Her intestines were out on scene on the left side,” Swartwout’s mother, Shelly Martin told CBS News.
According to the family’s GoFundMe page, the Richmond, Va. girl was put on a respirator and breathing tube and placed in intensive care. After three weeks in hospital she was released but still faced a long road to recovery.
“She is seeing a psychology doctor for possible PTSD,” Martin said. “She was in the ICU for two weeks and the pediatric floor floor for another week.”
Martin believes her daughter’s injuries could have been prevented had she been sitting in a booster seat.
“She would not have been this hurt in a booster,” the devastated mother said. “Don’t think that just because your child is 7 or 8 years [old] that they are too big…they aren’t!”
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles requires children to use a booster seat until they are at least eight years old or 4’9″.
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.
Martin hopes her daughter’s story will remind parents to be vigilant about using booster seats, no matter which car the child is riding in.
“If we can raise awareness and save another child then at least we can bring something good out of this,” Martin said.