AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Police said this week’s tragic accident that killed a young mother in Old Town should be a reminder to all parents about the need to have children ride in car safety seats.
The car, driven by Liza Parker, went off I-95 and rolled over several times but wasn’t discovered until about 18 hours later. Parker was killed, but her two small children, ages 5 and 18 months, survived.
Firefighters and Maine’s Public Safety commissioner said that’s because the children were buckled into their car seats.
“They told me the car seat saved the children’s lives,” said Commissioner John Morris. He said the car was demolished after rolling over several times.
Old Town Fire and Rescue Capt. Mike Hildreth was one of the first to reach the wreckage. He said the 5-year-old had actually gotten himself out of the seat but was still in the car when firefighters arrived. Being in the seat during the crash, he said, made the difference.
“So that kept them in one spot, not able to fly around inside the passenger compartment or be ejected so, definitely, the car seats kept them alive,” he said.
Morris said he hopes parents learn a lesson from the Old Town accident, and that more of them will make sure to use safety seats.
“I’m sure you’re on the road all the time,” Morris said. “You must see some little guys jumping up and down in the front seat on occasion. And I don’t get it. I don’t understand because this is a parental responsibility.”
The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety has a special program to help low-income families get car seats. Lauren Stewart, who directs the bureau, said they give away about 900 seats each year.
Stewart said they have also set up more than 40 locations around Maine where volunteers will help parents properly install and adjust their safety seats. Stewart said fitting the seat to the car and properly adjusting it to the child are some of the most common problems.