Personal Stories         


A Happy Ending

Ingrit Sanchez got the best possible reward for taking the time to learn about driving children safely--her own baby survived a severe crash without being injured.

Preparing to open a family day care business, Sanchez found out about a child passenger safety workshop to be presented by SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. at the Center for Community and Family Services in Carson, California. Although three-month-old Jehu always rode in a rear-facing safety seat in the back seat, as required by California law, his mother learned she was making several serious errors, which the instructors helped her fix.

Just a month later, the family was driving on Interstate 99 when they had a blowout. The car rolled three times before it finally stopped. Unable to see the baby in the back seat, Sanchez’s husband quickly unfastened his safety belt and climbed out the window. After frantically looking through their belongings, which had been thrown all over the road, he went back to the car and started moving pillows and blankets until he saw a tiny foot moving.

According to Sanchez, “Jehú was smiling like nothing had happened. My husband and I were severely injured, with cuts, scratches, and bleeding...but Jehú, our three month old baby, did not have a single scratch, not even a mark from the harness. While in the hospital, every time a doctor or nurse approached me, I kept on telling them about being at the workshop... I am constantly telling other people the importance of using car seats and seat belts appropriately.”

The class Sanchez attended was part of a SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. project funded by California Kids’ Plates.


In memory of Alec

SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. gained a very special grandfather as a volunteer and Board Member in 2002. After losing his beloved daughter and precious 22–month–old grandson in a terrible car crash, Marc Cohen decided to take up the cause of correct use of child safety seats. Despite the pain caused by working with children and their parents who remind him of his lost family members, he gains strength and hope by sharing his newly gained skills as a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.

As a Speakers’ Bureau volunteer, Marc has passed our message and materials to countless families who visit health and safety fairs. Recently, on Child Safety Day, he stood by a brand new Toyota van, lent to SBS USA for the event by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and  showed families how the 5-Step Test determines if their children need a booster.  He also demonstrated correct installation of a conventional safety seat.

Marc raised scholarship funds to attend the five-day class required for national certification and, since then, has worked tirelessly to protect children. If there is a safety seat checkup he can attend, he’s there. He speaks to passersby in public places and informs colleagues at professional conferences. He offers SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. his time and ideas readily as well as special connections from his professional world.  It has become much more than a mission in his life--it is his passion. Marc is taking all of these steps to say "if I knew then, what I do now, my grandson Alec, might have survived.”


In memory of Ysabel

"My name is Samantha Babcock. I'm the mother of two children, Daniel (age 7) & Ysabel (age 2). I must stress how important it is to have your children properly & safely riding in a vehicle. It can mean the difference between life and death.

"Once I thought the buckle-up laws were just an inconvenience, but since it was the law, mostly, both of my children were in a car seat or safety belt. But sometimes either I would not have a car seat or there weren't enough safety belts. I used to think it was ok or that nothing would ever happen to us. I don't think that way any more.

"What I think now is absolutely opposite, because the unthinkable has happened to me. I lost my daughter last July as a result of a car crash when she wasn't in a car seat, and my son will be physically and mentally affected for the rest of his life.

"If that isn't bad enough, the state had to prosecute me for child abuse/endangerment. Now that the trial is over, I need to heal. The court is giving me options for my sentence: to speak about my experience at 25 classes within 18 months or to do 200 hours of community service.

"I need as many chances as possible to speak to anyone and everyone about our children's safety and the repercussions of a "quick" decision. Please let SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. know if I can help by telling my story."

[Samantha is not available presently to speak. However, she has shared her message in brief DVD messages as she attempted to distill her anguish into warnings for others who might not expect to be visited with this horrible experience. We have placed a copy in our Audiovisual Library which is open free, except for any shipping charges, to members and for a small fee to others.]


An important message from Stephanie Tombrello, LCSW, Executive Director, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.

For more than thirty years, I have watched for a parent who would be willing to speak up after making a decision that led to the death of a child in a motor vehicle crash. Knowing the pain such a circumstance inflicts, it did not surprise me that no one appeared. Until now, no parent whose child was lost was willing to go to other parents and say, "I did it. Don’t make the same mistake." For this reason, SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. wants to share the story of Ysabel, Samantha's daughter. Ysabel was ejected from the vehicle and died of major head trauma. Her safety seat had been left at home.

Among the horrible aspects of the crash: 1) the children were ejected from the vehicle in the middle of the night. Had Samantha or the driver not remained conscious despite their injuries, no one would have found them because their existence was unknown. 2) Samantha and her children were sent to different hospitals, separated at this time of highest trauma. 3) Samantha had a safety seat for her daughter but had left it behind because she expected to travel both ways by bus. Interestingly, data collected through our violator education program indicates that most violators of child passenger safety laws own a safety seat but are not using it when stopped.

Heed Samantha’s belated realization: a safety seat and/or safety belt is essential on every trip. If you knew that you would be in a crash, would you even get into the vehicle for that trip?

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SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. • P.O. Box 553, Altadena, CA 91003