The death of a young child is always a tragedy, no matter how it happens. But a recent car crash is placing new emphasis on a routine every parent goes through.
A toddler died after a wreck on Bull Run Road in Scottsboro Monday afternoon. Her mother, Dolores Garcia, 39, was driving her 2006 Chevy Malibu eastbound on Bull Run Road when she entered a curve, left the road and struck a utility pole, according to Metro Police.
Vanessa Leon, 3, was in a rear child safety seat that dislodged and struck the back of the driver's seat.
"She's a darling little thing you know, she was just like a little doll, a little angel," said David Knight, a family friend.
The girl was transported to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where she later died. Garcia, who lives on Bull Run Road, is also being treated for serious injuries. She was wearing her seatbelt. There was no evidence of alcohol or drug involvement at the scene of the crash. Police believe excessive speed may have played a role in the crash.
It's unclear how the seat become dislodged. Metro Police said officers are still investigating the crash.
But car seats continue to cause concern for parents and officers everywhere. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four safety seats are improperly installed.
In 1978, Tennessee became the first state to mandate child car seats.
"If it's not installed correctly, then it definitely cannot be good for the child," said Chuck Williams, a field training officer with the Belle Meade Police Department.
Williams is one of hundreds of technicians trained to inspect safety seats. The Governor's Highway Safety Office funds the Tennessee Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Center, which provides training and resources for 89 fitting stations across the state.
According to Williams, parents should secure the seat itself, not just the child. Seatbelts can be run through the backs or sides of several seat models. Tightening the seatbelt typically holds the seat in place, even upon impact, Williams said.
"It doesn't matter how much money you spend, the thing you want to know as a consumer or as a child's parent is can you put it in correctly no matter how many times you take it out," he said.