A six-week old child survived a rollover car crash that ejected his car seat along the shoulder of Highway 99 in Turlock, the California Highway Patrol reported.
The infant, along with another young child appeared to have escaped the crash uninjured, though both were flown to UC Davis Medical Center as a precaution.
The single vehicle collision happened around 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Highway 99, near West Main Avenue.
The driver of the 2007 Cadillac Escalade, 29-year-old Ulizes Benitez of Turlock, was driving southbound on the highway in the center lane, when for an unknown reason he made a turning movement to the right.
The quick veer caused the Escalade to travel across the right lane and down an embankment. The Escalade overturned multiple times before coming to a rest on its wheels.
During the rollover the infant’s car seat came loose and was ejected out one of the windows. It landed face down along the shoulder of the freeway, very close to the right lane of traffic, said CHP spokesman Officer Tom Olsen.
A Turlock police officer was near the scene of the crash and was the first to arrive at the scene and discovered the child.
“I can’t imagine what it was like for that officer to see the car seat face down and to have to turn it over,” said CHP spokesman Officer Tom Olsen. “It’s an absolute miracle that this child is alive and unharmed.”
Olsen said it appeared as if the infant’s car seat had not properly been installed, which is what caused it to be ejected from the vehicle.
The second child, a 23-month old boy, was found in his car seat in the vehicle. His car seat should have been rear-facing instead of forward facing, Olsen said. California law states children under two years of age should be in car seats that are rear-facing.
“Really, children should be kept in rear-facing seats for as long as possible,” Olsen said.
Benitez and the front seat passenger, Cynthia Canedo, 29, of Turlock both sustained minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center and Doctors Medical Center, respectively.
Alcohol or drugs do not appear to have been factors in the collision.
The most recent statistics show that 75 percent of infant car seats have at least one installation error. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified the most common mistakes as:
· - The car seat is not installed correctly in the back seat.
· - The car’s seats straps are twisted.
· - The recline angle of the car seat is not correct.
· - The car seat’s harness is too loose.
· - Lower anchors are attached too loosely or are used improperly, such as in the middle seat of the vehicle.
· - The position of the car seat’s harness retainer clip is too low.
· - The wrong harness slot is used.
· - The seat belt retractor is not locked in car seats that use seat belts.
· - The wrong seat belt path is used or not used at all.
· - The car seat is not tight enough.
· - The baby is not positioned correctly in the car seat, whether it’s an infant car seat, convertible car seat, or all-in-one car seat.
People can have their car seats checked at free events and at the CHP office in Modesto. Safe Kids Stanislaus on Facebook routinely lists free events.