A rollover crash on a California highway Tuesday that led to a child being ejected and suffering major injuries could have been prevented, officials said.
On its Facebook page, the California Highway Patrol office in Santa Cruz posted a photo from the accident, which shows a large debris field along the median. CHP said that a distracted driver crashed into the median, causing a 5-year-old boy, who was not properly secured in a safety seat, to be ejected from the vehicle. The boy suffered major injuries and was airlifted to a trauma center, CHP said.
Officials said, "Tragically, this child could have been uninjured if he were in the proper seat." The CHP warned parents: “Don’t assume a seat belt will restrain a child who is not at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall." Officers found the boy's mangled seat belt, still buckled, in the vehicle, but no booster seat was found, KSBW reported.
"It was an absolutely awful, traumatic scene," CHP Officer Sam Courtney told KSBW, saying that the boy was ejected from the vehicle as soon as it began to roll over.
The mother, identified by Highway Patrol as a 40-year-old woman from Watsonville, was treated for moderate injuries. Authorities are looking into possible criminal charges in the case.
The CHP hopes the accident will be a sober reminder for other parents. On Facebook, the CHP said that it provides car seats free of charge and will help properly install them.