Swedish rear facing seat saves a 2-year old life
Accidents are terrible but sometimes unavoidable. Anne in Phoenix was in a horrible accident where her car got completely destroyed. The only uninjured person was her two year old sitting in a Swedish rear facing Brio Zento. Read her story below:
On our way to Phoenix, just a few miles away, my husband (driving our 2002 Odyssey) hit an obstacle in the road. We don't know what it is, but we all felt the bump, then were airborne, and onto a gravel shoulder. We skidded on the gravel. The van hit a barrier (right at the rear driver's side, where my 4 year old daughter was seated.) It then flipped across the highway. My husband was braking the whole way. (He had just had the tires rotated and pressure checked, and the brakes replaced.) It slowed us considerably. We went into a ditch at an angle and became airborne. We went down on the passenger side of the vehicle, nose first, and then flipped over upside down.
My daughters (the 4 year old, almost 5, and her 2 sisters, 6 almost 7 and 2 almost 3) were screaming. This meant they were alive and I was glad. My husband and I were suspended by our (properly worn) seatbelts. I had significant neck pain. My husband was able to exit the vehicle fairly easily, but I was trapped; I had to be extracted with the Jaws of Life (after fending off a bystander who wanted to cut my belt with a pen knife and pull me out, yelling at him, "Do not cut my seatbelt! Wait until the EMTs arrive to hold c-spine! If you want to do something, get me a jacket and treat me for shock!")
My 4 and 6 year olds were harnessed properly in properly installed and used, tethered seats. (The 6 year old is usually boostered, but because it was a late night trip I didn't want to risk her falling asleep and falling out of position.) My 2 year old was rear-facing. The heavy cargo in the van was all packed tightly down in the bottom of the trunk, compartmentalized behind and under the seat as much as possible before we left. My husband and I had our seatbelts and headrests properly fastened and adjusted and were seated in proper position.
My husband has a mild lung contusion and abrasions from his seatbelt and "road burn." I have a lot of stitches in my arm (which dragged along the ground outside the car– the trauma surgeon says that the braking slowed us enough to save me from having it ripped off) and on my face and bruising all over. My 6 year old has minor abrasions (more road burn) and bruises. My 4 year old, with the most severe injuries, suffered a severe cut to her foot (aptly and completely repaired by great surgeons) and a broken leg (remember, she was AT the first point of impact, a side impact.) My 2 year old, who was in the rear-facing seat, was completely unharmed. Not a mark on her. Nothing. Despite the fact that we landed on the side of the car she was on (she was behind me, I was in the second row passenger seat, and the forward-facers were second and third row driver's side.)
Anne's story is good example of just how safe rear facing is. As many know we have been keeping children rear facing in Sweden since 1965. Our strong recommendations is to keep children rear facing until age 4 or longer. Why?
Our real life experiences with rear facing show one thing very clear. It's almost impossible for a rear facing child to die or become seriously injured in a traffic accident regardless of circumstances.
Thanks to Anne for the photos, story and all her hard work in helping others with car seat safety. We hope everyone recover well.