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Tragic month for kids in Southeast Georgia

Wrecks kill three toddlers in short time

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POSTED: March 12, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Fire Rescue Units in Tattnall, Toombs, and Appling counties worked triple tragedies last month.
In just nine days in January, they had as many unrestrained kids killed in car crashes here as died in the entire state without child safety seats in 2006.  
The wrecks were:
• Jan. 21, Tattnall County: 3-year-old Traniah Amonii Fleming from Reidsville was killed when the vehicle in which she was a passenger careened out of control.  The unrestrained toddler was ejected, as was her mother and unrestrained 6-year-old brother.
• Jan. 28, Toombs County:  3-year-old Janayla Howard of Lyons, was killed when the vehicle in which she was riding was involved in a five-car-crash.  Janayla was not buckled up.
• Jan. 30, Appling County: 3-year-old Jasmine Goethe of Lyons was unrestrained when her mother's Ford Expedition struck another vehicle that failed to yield and then struck a utility pole.  Jasmine was killed in the crash that also killed her mother.
State law requires that children younger than 6 be restrained in the back seat of a vehicle in a federally approved child safety seat.
Then, at age 6, child passengers can be restrained in a traditional, lap-and-shoulder belt. However, it is recommended that children remain in a booster seat until a safety belt fits them correctly across the lap and collar bone.
"We're extremely concerned about this sudden and tragic loss of young lives in these neighboring southeast Georgia communities," said Director Bob Dallas of Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "So we're redoubling our efforts there to raise public awareness about Georgia's child passenger safety laws and the lifesaving benefits of our occupant safety educational programs for parents and caregivers."
Dallas is not alone.
"I was shocked to hear of so many unrestrained child deaths in such a short period of time," GOHS occupant protection planner Amy Edwards said.  "GOHS will do all we can to support these counties and ensure children here are restrained correctly every trip, every time."
Research demonstrates that child safety seats, when used correctly, can reduce the chances of a fatal injury by 71-percent for infants and 54-percent for toddlers. Bonnie Brantley, the Safe Kids Coalition coordinator for Meadows Regional Medical Center in Toombs County, said that while the children's deaths were not deliberate, they were most likely preventable.
"No one would intentionally hurt their child," Brantley said. "But it's so important that parents take proper steps to ensure their kids are properly restrained."
In 2006, thirty-two-percent of children under the 6 of six who died in vehicle crashes were either improperly restrained or entirely unrestrained.
So car crashes remain the Number One cause of death for children in America.  But those odds can be altered if adults know both the child safety guidelines in their vehicle owner's guide and the instructions for their approved child safety seat.
Child safety seat inspection stations in this area include the Hinesville Fire Department, 876-4143, and the County Health Departments in Libert, 876-2173, Long, 545-2107, and Bryan, 653-4331. For more child passenger safety information visit www.gahighwaysafety.org or contact GOHS's Edwards at (404) 463-0156 or aedwards@gohs.ga.gov.
 

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