Car Seat Safety — A Tragedy Should Not Have To Be The Reminder

August 31, 2011

Body

Many of you have heard of the Berry family tragedy that occurred in west Texas almost two months ago. Joshua and Robin Berry, residents of Briargrove in Houston, were killed when a car, apparently trying to pass a vehicle on a two lane highway during the near midnight hour, veered into their lane, giving Robin no time to maneuver. A horrific accident ended the lives of my friends coming home from a fun-filled summer vacation in Colorado. In the back rows of their minivan were Willa, a six-year-old girl full of spunk, and her two brothers, Aaron and Peter, aged 8 and 9, respectively. As a result of the crash, Aaron and Peter suffered life threatening abdominal and orthopedic injuries. The boys have been through multiple surgeries, all considered successful. However, due to the serious spinal trauma from the accident, they are now paralyzed below the waist. Willa suffered minor injuries by comparison, and she is recovering currently from broken bones in her extremities. Her physical injuries will heal with more time, and she is doing well and just began 1st grade this week. The emotional scars left for each of the children will be enormous, and both boys are not only dealing with the loss of their parents, but are also dealing with chronic paralysis and the health concerns related to this condition. Both are in good spirits and currently are undergoing rehabilitation in Chicago, Illinois.

As this story has gone viral on Facebook (Berry Children's Trust) and Twitter (@berrychildren), fundraisers held in Houston have occurred almost daily and raised a substantial amount of money for the new guardians of these children, as their monetary costs are too difficult to imagine at this time. Incredibly, fundraising in Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and others cities (and countries) has taken on a life of its own. The Houston Rockets and Texans have publicly led to support them as well. To help, simply visit one of these sites and an event is likely upcoming or can be organized by anyone interested.

This family was remarkable. Simply reading about them can provide their accomplishments in the Houston community. To know them was to love them, and personally, my children attend school in the same grade as Willa and Peter. They were great parents who died due to circumstances out of their control. However, we all can protect our children by following all of the recommendations provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Please discuss with your pediatrician the best way to protect each of your children, as their needs change with physical growth. Know what measures should be taken if you are asked to take a niece or a friend's child in your car, and be prepared as much as you can for this in advance.

What if questions cannot be answered by anyone and do not need to be, as they are now irrelevant. My message in writing this personal blog posting is for parents to understand that car accidents are the number one cause of death to children in the United States. We vaccinate against disease, feed our children well balanced meals, educate them against strangers and try to know the risks of swimming pools, guns and cigarette smoke. With children riding in cars to school, activities and errands several trips a day in many instances, parents can best assure they are looking after their children's well being against injury is to follow the guidelines set out by the experts and encourage their friends and family to do the same as theirs.

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