HEARTBREAKING: Indiana Mother Charged in Death of Infant Son After Not Adjusting Car Seat Straps
As any new parent knows, there is a lot to learn when bringing a baby home for the first time. Many of these lessons, such as how to properly install and use a car seat, may mean the difference between life and death for a new bundle of joy.
Indiana Mother Charged After Baby Dies from Tight Car Seat Straps
One Indiana mother is being charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily harm after the death of her infant son. Court documents state the child’s death was caused by car seat straps that were too tight.
On May 26, 2021, Megan Ford, 35, found her son unresponsive after driving 15 to 20 minutes to her mother’s house. According to the probable cause affidavit by Detective Gabe Furnish of the Allen County Sherriff’s Department, Ford thought her son had fallen asleep.
Fox59 reported that when emergency personnel arrived on the scene, the infant, who weighed 8 pounds and 2 ounces, was bluish in color with blood coming from his nose and mouth.
The Autopsy Report
An autopsy report showed that the infant had a bruise on his abdomen that lined up with the placement of the buckle of his car seat straps. Court documents also reported that Dr. Kent Harshbarger said, “the blood from his mouth and nose could have been from his lungs due to the pressure of the asphyxiation.” He also stated the infant had 5 broken ribs that he did not believe were caused by the CPR administered at the scene but could not rule that out.
When interviewed by police, Ford said that she hadn’t adjusted the car seat straps since she brought her son home from the hospital at 4 pounds, 14 oz. She said the car seat was a gift and she didn’t know how to adjust the straps but planned on asking her mother for help the day the baby died.
Ford said she knew the straps were too tight when she took the baby for his wellness check-up two days prior. Court documents state that she demonstrated how she had to lower the baby’s body into the seat so that she could get the straps over his shoulders.
What Did the Baby's Father Say?
The baby’s father, Quentin Hoskins, told police that he had a conversation with Ford a couple of days before his death regarding the straps. The infant was their first child and neither knew how to adjust the straps.
“I could barely get him in the car seat,” Hoskins said.
What Happens Next?
On Friday, March 25th, Ford was released from the Allen County Jail on a $10,000 bond. Her next court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, according to court records.
Indiana’s Child Restraint Law
According to in.gov, all children under eight must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat and you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Here are more guidelines about the child restraint law in Indiana.
- Children under the age of one year and less than 20 lbs. MUST be restrained in a rear-facing child safety seat. Many newer seats will restrain a child rear-facing up to 30-35 lbs. Troopers encourage parents to keep their children rear-facing as long as possible.
- Children that are at least one year old and 20 lbs. may be restrained in a forward-facing child safety seat with an internal harness system.
- Children at least 30 lbs. may use a booster seat, but troopers encourage parents to keep their children restrained in a forward-facing seat until at least 40 lbs.
- Indiana law requires all children under the age of eight to use a child restraint system in accordance with the child restraint system manufacturer’s instructions, which are based upon the child’s height and weight. The child restraint system normally used by children in this age group is the booster seat.
- All children under the age of 16 must be properly restrained either by using a seat belt or a child restraint system, including a booster seat.
Car Seat Safety
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, a car seat harness should be fastened with the clip at armpit level. Parents should conduct the “pinch test” to make sure the harness is tight enough. If you are able to pinch any excess strap at the child’s shoulders, then it is too loose. However, it should not be so tight that it leaves marks on the skin.
Consumer Reports shares important information regarding car seat safety on their website including these 6 common mistakes to look out for when fastening the child’s harness:
- The harness is too loose.
- Harness straps have never been adjusted
- Straps are uneven.
- The buckle is left undone.
- Straps are twisted.
- The chest-clip position is incorrect.
For more information to ensure proper car seat safety, parents can check out the United States Department of Transportation website.