By Dan Killoy
The old axiom that a picture is worth a thousand words has been forever pressed into my mind after seeing the aftermath of a horrific car accident involving my daughter-in-law and my 1-year-old twin granddaughters last month.
It is and will probably always be hard to wrap my mind around the reality that despite the visual images — the mangled 3/4-ton truck, the completely and utterly destroyed 25-foot camp trailer, wreckage spewed for hundreds of yards on the Interstate — we still have our beautiful daughter-in-law, Amber, and twins Emma and Grace with us.
After making the mad dash from the eastern part of the state to Butte and arriving at the hospital, my mind was so full of mixed feelings and dread that I felt I was in some kind of time warp. Our family camping trip, which had just ended earlier that day, was a distant memory in the present horror story.
After tears, hugs, more tears, self-doubt, all of the should-have, could-have, might-have and self-battering, you come to face the fact that it was an accident, and all of the energy wasted on those things needs to be channeled toward the future and positive energy.
Despite being seat-belted, Amber sustained multiple fractures of both legs, hip, pelvis, and ribs, basically caused from being partially ejected from the truck when the driver's-side door came off. The babies had minor cuts from flying glass. This led to many discussions predicated by the old platitudes: without seat belts and car seats, what might have happened, what a blessing that the babies were in their car seats, etc. This discussion brought an interesting reply from the emergency room doctor. When I commented that the babies being basically untouched was a real testament to infant car seats, his reaction was somewhat different than I would expect.
He told me that wasn’t necessarily true, that the testament should go to the mother and father who made sure that the car seats were properly installed, and even more important, properly used.
“I have been an emergency room physician for over 20 years, and I have seen numerous infants with multiple injuries, and deaths, due to the improper use of infant car seats,” he noted. Short cuts maim and kill toddlers; parents who think the baby is fussing because the strap is too tight, too hot, too much trouble to hook up properly, for just a short trip to the store, etc. end up with severe problems. His opinion was that improper use of car seats is in effect not much different than not having them.
I know all of us think back to our own childhood, where there weren’t any car seats, few seat belts, and most of us made it through just fine. That being said, why take the chance? Give yourself and your family the opportunity to feel the elation, the relief, the gratitude that our family felt … simply because Mom and Dad didn’t cut corners.
I can’t stress enough to get your safety seats installed correctly and get them inspected occasionally. There is a safety seat inspection station at the Custer County Sheriff’s Office. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Through a grant, Buckle Up Montana, there are child safety seats provided to individuals at a greatly reduced cost. For further information, contact Eileen Reddick, Buckle Up Montana Coordinator, 874-3302 or the Prairie County Sheriff’s office, 635-5738.
NOTE: Dan Killoy is publisher of the Terry Tribune, Miles City Star and Forsyth Independent.
Published August 1, 2012