ALBION — Authorities say properly installed child restraint seats may have saved lives in Huntington County Monday.
Getting a child seat inspected to see if it is properly installed isn’t as easy as it was several years ago, when local sheriff’s departments offered the service. According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s website, child safety seat checkpoints routinely discover that eight out of 10 children are not properly restrained.
The importance of properly installed child restraint seats was highlighted in a recent news release from the Indiana State Police.
The Indiana State Police investigated a single vehicle rollover crash in rural Huntington County Monday morning, where in the driver, two toddlers and an infant escaped without injury as a result of proper seatbelt and child restraint systems being utilized.
At approximately 9:50 a.m., Master Trooper Jason Ward was called to investigate a single vehicle rollover crash in Huntington County. Ward’s investigation determined that a silver 2010 Dodge Journey passenger vehicle, driven by Roanoke resident Jill Abbott, 31, was traveling south on Old Fort Wayne Road just north of C.R. 750N. For an unknown reason, Abbott’s vehicle ran off the roadway to the right and impacted a concrete drainage structure, causing the vehicle to roll over several times prior to coming to rest.
As would be expected, damage to Abbott’s vehicle was extremely extensive, and as Ward pointed out, “normally with these types of rollover crashes we also see serious injury to the vehicle occupants when proper safety restraint systems are not in use. Fortunately with this crash, the combination of the driver wearing her seatbelt and having all three of her children (ages 3, 2, and 7 months) properly restrained in child safety seats, this family was able to walk away without injury.”
Making sure a child seat is properly installed is a prerequisite before leaving a hospital, and Parkview Noble Hospital offers child seat inspections, according to hospital spokeswoman Ann Kadish.
“Parkview Noble Hospital continues to do the child safety seat inspections and Parkview LaGrange Hospital’s inspection program will begin in September,” Kadish said in an email.
The contact for Parkview Noble Hospital is Michelle Harlan, the hospital birth planner. Those wishing to set up an appointment may reach out to Harlan by phone at 347-8345 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kadish said the hospital would be sending out a news release release to let the community know they can get child safety seat inspections performed at Parkview LaGrange Hospital in just a few weeks. In the short term, interested persons can contact the Family Birthing Center at Parkview LaGrange at 463-9300 if they would like a call-back when the program opens in September.
Both the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department and the Noble County Sheriff’s Department had offered the service in the past, but approximately four years ago, the programs ceased. The same is true for the Kendallville Police Department and the Ligonier Police Department.
Noble County Sheriff Max Weber, who is in his first year in office, said he was told the practice ceased at his department because of liability concerns. He said if the upholstery on a vehicle was damaged during a check of installation, the department could be held liable. There was also the risk of office staff getting accidentally poked with a needle or other sharp object.
Then there is the training required.
According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s website, getting certified to inspect safety seat requires attending four eight-hour training sessions. The certification is earned through the National Highway Safety Administration, and requires a $60 fee at attend the course. The certification itself cost $75.
To get re-certified requires five seat checks approved by a certified instructor. There is also a community education component which must be fulfilled.
It may be too much for employee-strapped sheriff’s departments, but Weber said he certainly endorses the proper use of child safety seats.
“It’s extremely important,” Weber said. “With the impact of a car crash, you have that risk of an impact that can jar them, causing neck and spinal cord injuries.
“If (they) can’t install a car seat properly, how much do they love that child?”