Experts: Child vehicle rollovers common, dangerous

Experts: Parents involved in most rollover accidents involving children

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville family is experiencing a devastating loss.

A mother accidentally backed over her 18-month-old daughter in Valley Station on Tuesday. Police are calling the child’s death a “tragic accident.”

The child has not been identified. WAVE 3 News learned the child's father is a volunteer firefighter at the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department.

PRP Fire Chief Doug Recktenwald sent a statement to WAVE 3 News:

The 18-month-old child was hit outside her home in the 6100 block of Ashby Lane, just north of the intersection of Dixie Highway and the Gene Snyder Freeway, around 5:15 p.m.

“It’s very typical of what happened (Tuesday),” Norton Children’s Prevention Wellness spokeswoman Sharon Rengers said. “They are usually between 12-24 months. It’s usually someone is going out to their car to do something quick.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Police: Mother accidentally ran over 1-year-old daughter in driveway of Louisville home

LMPD’s Homicide Unit launched a death investigation into the circumstances surrounding the toddler’s death. The initial investigation revealed the child’s mother left her 18-month-old daughter and 3-year-old sibling in their home when she said she went out to the driveway to move a car. As the mother was backing up, she told police she heard a scream and immediately jumped out of the car. That’s when she found her daughter had left the house and wandered into the driveway, into the path of the vehicle.

CPR was started at the scene, MetroSafe confirmed. A short time after the child’s arrival at the hospital, she was pronounced dead.

Interview with Sharon Rengers

According to KidsandCars.org, every year thousands of children are killed or seriously injured because a driver backing up or going forward didn’t see them. A backover incident typically takes place when a car is backing out of a driveway or parking space. A frontover is the opposite.

Rengers said 70 percent of the time it’s a parent who accidentally runs over their child. She said she recommends that someone hold a child’s hand while moving vehicles are around and drivers should walk around a vehicle every time it needs to be moved.

"It happens a lot where they see someone go out and they want to go with them," Rengers said.

That’s what happened to Brian Bayers' son, Jackson.

"I wake up every morning and think of Jackson," Brian Bayers said. "I got to bed at night thinking about Jackson."

In 2015, Bayers was backing his truck up to his house in Spencer County. He had no idea that Jackson had somehow wandered outside, too.

“Every accident like this, it brings it all back,” Bayers said. “My situation, my son was hit with the front wheels on the drivers side. I look back and had I done something as simple as rolled my window down, maybe I had heard him. Vehicles don’t have blind spots, they have blind zones.”

Bayers added that cameras surrounding cars are even more helpful that just rearview cameras.

A back-up camera in every new car puts safety at the forefront. New cars sold in the U.S. must have back-up cameras to help drivers avoid accidents under a federal regulation that took effect this year. The regulation requires rear-view cameras and video displays on new models. Congress passed a law in 2008 requiring regulators to enact measures requiring the adoption of technology to greatly improve rear-view visibility. After years of delays, the Department of Transportation announced the camera requirement in 2014, giving automakers several years to prepare.

Interview with Brian Bayers

Rengers added back-up cameras are very helpful. WAVE 3 News does not know if the vehicle involved in Tuesday’s incident had one.

“Typically what happens when you have an SUV or higher vehicle than you get 15-25 feet blind space/spots behind you that you can’t see,” Rengers said. “The camera makes a big difference.”

If you don’t have a camera on your car, you can have one installed. Prices range from $100-$200.

Rengers said while the cameras are very helpful, drivers shouldn’t be dependent on technology because it can give you a false sense of security.

“You need to walk around the vehicle every time you move it when you have kids around,” Rengers said.

Bayers said any parent who goes through this sort of heartache and loss lives with horrible guilt. He continues to speak about what happened to him and his son to bring awareness to how dangerous kids and cars can be.

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