While parents spend a lot of money on car seats for their children to keep them buckled in and safe, car seats can be deadly for babies if used incorrectly. Specifically, authorities warn that infants should never be put to sleep in car seats, as it can be fatal.
Ali and Derek Dodd lost their 11-week-old son, Shepard, when a day care worker put the young boy in an unbuckled car seat in an empty room on April 6, reports KFOR. The day care worker returned to the room after two hours, where Shepard was discovered blue and unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late.
"I was able to kiss him on the forehead as they wheeled him in," said Derek Dodd. "He was cold. So I knew it was coming."
A citation from the Department of Human Services showed the day care operator was warned about the dangers of allowing a small child to sleep in a car seat just 11 days before Shepard's death, according to Independent Journal.
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"It is unthinkable that these choices were so easy to make," said Ali. "That she knew better. She was counseled just days before by DHS. She had had a violation 11 days before."
Shepard's death is not listed in the public file, and the DHS records posted online only indicate that Shepard was “placed in a car seat to sleep.”
"What it says on there for our incident ... it says she allowed a baby to sleep in a car seat. It doesn't say anything about him dying. Even parents wouldn't even know that he died in her care," said Ali.
It is likely Shepard died from positional asphyxia, which happens with newborns and babies who get into a sleeping position and their airway closes. Newborns and young babies do not have the neck strength necessary to lift their heads enough to breathe.
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"It happens every day. It's so sad. It happens every day. It doesn't matter how much education you have or how many parenting classes you've had. It can still happen," said Angela Dickson, Safe Sleep and Social Work coordinator for the Maternal and Child Health Service at State Health.