CUTLERVILLE, Mich. – Michigan State Police say a car seats like this could have saved Cassadi and Kandice Berryhill’s life when their car was hit by an alleged drunk driver November, 13 in Van Buren County.
“They were so sweet, says Justin Berryhill, Cassadi and Kandice’s father. “They were so smart. Very smart.”
“They were. They were so sweet,” says Alicia Quinones, the little girl’s mother. The sadness is evident as Alicia and Justin remember their little girls.
“The car seats weren’t available to me, but I had them both buckled up In the back of them. It goes over you like this and under you,” said Berryhill as he testified Thursday.
Tragically, a crash expert testified that the girls’ fatal injuries were caused by the very seat belt Justin put on them to protect them. “She had all abdominal injuries from the lap belt only,” said Michigan State Police Crash Reconstructionist Sgt. James Campbell.
He said Kandice also had a skull fracture from a flying NyQuil Bottle that was sitting in a bag in the car. The high back of a child seat may have saved her life. “The duffel bag would have been doing about 38 mph into the back of her head,said Campbell.
Safe Kid’s Jennifer Hoekstra showed parents how important child safety seats are during a Cutlerville clinic at the fire department Thursday.
Hoekstra explained why adult belts don’t work for kids. “Those internal injuries are caused because the seat belt is not properly positioned on the strong bones. So, when we talk about kids in a booster seat. That’s exactly what it does, boosts them up, so it does contact the strong bones rather than lie on the internal organ areas,” says Hoekstra, Coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids.
Even though many parents understand that it’s clear they really need to have a child seat for their kids, the next big step is to make sure it’s installed properly.
“Make sure you secure this,” said Hoekstra as she pushed a seat belt through a child safety seat to demonstrate. She says when you pull the seat belt through you need to put your weight on the seat to make sure it’s tight. “It shouldn’t move more than an inch from side to side,” says Hoekstra.
Safe Kids suggests attending a free training clinic like the one hosted in Cutlerville Thursday to check your seats. Alicia Quinones also has other advice for parents.
“I see a lot of parents yelling at their kids and stuff and you just never know when they’re going to be gone and just don’t take those moments for granted, they’re precious amazing little people,” says Quinones.
The next car seat check is happening in Rockford on Monday, December, 17 at the Rockford Fire Department at 7 South Monroe. You can also check for more clinics at the link below:
In the state of Michigan, kids must ride in some proper type of car seat until a minimum of eight-years-old. Safe Kids says the best recommendation is to have them in a seat until they are four-feet, nine-inches tall.