One mom is delivering a terrifying warning after her six-year-old daughter was almost killed during a minor accident, all because of her seatbelt.
Shelly Martin says her daughter, Samantha Swartwout, was returning home with her father when the car swerved and hit a tree. While under normal circumstances Samantha's injuries would have been minimal, she was wearing her seatbelt wrong and it caused life-threatening injuries. The seatbelt had sliced through her abdomen, exposing her intestines.
But what went wrong? How did this happen?
Shelly says her daughter had appeared to grow out of her booster seat so she no longer used it in the car.
"A lot of people seem to think that when the children don't fit so easily in the booster, that it's OK to take them out of the booster. That's not the case," Martin explained.
Another mistake was that Samantha had moved the shoulder part of her seatbelt behind her back. When the crash happened, all the impact was forced into just the lap portion of the seatbelt. Because she wasn't tall enough to be without a booster seat, the belt laid across her stomach instead of her hips. The pressure from the belt sliced through little Samantha's abdomen.
"Where you could see the stripe of the seat belt in an enormous bruise across her abdomen, as well as the fact that the edge, the far edge of the belt, had actually cut through her abdominal wall and she had protruding intestines from that," said Samantha's doctor, Dr. Bagwell. "She was just about cut in two. Much of which, quite frankly, couldn't be repaired. The injury was too severe."
Samantha is currently at home recovering from her injuries. She will be off school until at least January, as her recovery involves very minimal movement.
Shelly Martin says she will always feel guilt over what happened to her daughter. She's hoping that her near-death experience will help other parents understand the importance of correct seatbelt and booster seat safety.
"We should've done better. This was completely avoidable."