Mother of toddler killed in crash: 'Hug your kids tighter every day no matter what'

Mother of toddler killed in crash wants people to remember him as smart, happy
Published: May. 4, 2018 at 1:48 AM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2018 at 9:39 AM EDT
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Dawson Elder was sitting on his mother's lap in the passenger seat of their broken down car...
Dawson Elder was sitting on his mother's lap in the passenger seat of their broken down car when the unthinkable happened. (FOX19 NOW)

TAYLOR MILL, KY (FOX19) - It was a scene that broke the hearts of every emergency worker that responded Wednesday night.

Dawson Elder, 3, lost his life in a tragic accident on the Interstate 275 bridge after his mother's car broke down and they were hit from behind.

Dawson was a miracle baby who had a rough start to his life, said his mother, Megan Ritter.

Ritter wanted to share her son's story to help people remember Dawson's life instead of his death.

"He's my best friend," said Ritter. "He was born at 29 weeks, one pound 11 ounces. He's a fighter from the day he was born and he was my best friend. He told everybody that, 'My mommy is my best friend.'"

This is the way Ritter wants to remember her son: a fun loving, skinny little blonde who could make everyone laugh.

"He never knew a stranger, just the happiest, just, rambunctious baby," she said. "So perfect, so smart."

On Wednesday, in the blink of an eye, Dawson was killed.

"My tire blew out and I pulled over to the side onto the shoulder of 275," Ritter said. "I was on my rim, I couldn't go any farther. Dawson was really upset because he had an accident because we had been sitting there so long -- I was on the phone with the tow truck getting help and he was crying because he had an accident so I let him climb up front and figured we'd get out on the passenger side just open the door and I would hold him so he could go potty because he had to pee because he was upset. His favorite thing to do is to pee on mommy's wheels, he thinks it is hilarious, so I had him on my lap, I had the door opened just a little bit, I had him on my lap in the passenger seat and he was going the bathroom and next thing you know we were rear-ended and slammed into the wall. And he was ripped from my arms and that's the last time I saw him."

First responders arrived on scene about the same time that Dawson's dad did.

Ritter's one-year-old daughter was still in the backseat in a car seat. She was unharmed.

Ritter was admitted to University of Cincinnati Medical Center immediately after the crash because she's six months pregnant. Doctors say the baby is OK.

"My heart just hurts," Ritter said. "There are just so many things I wish I would have done different but I can't. I can't change anything. I just wish I could hold him and protect him as his mother."

Dawson loved the Power Rangers. He was always laughing. That's how his mother will remember him, and that's how she wants you to remember him.

"I just want people to know that you're never going to know when the last moment will be -- so please hug your kids tighter every day no matter what," she said. "Please hold onto your babies."

Taylor Mill Police are seeking witnesses to the crash and ask them to come forward as soon as possible.

A GoFundMe is set up for Dawson's family.

The incident remains under investigation by Taylor Mill Police and Kenton County Accident Reconstruction Team, along with oversight and direction from the Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney.

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