December 1, 1996 in City

Mom Says Baby Was Strapped In

Associated Press

The mother of a Boise toddler killed by a passenger-side air bag disputes the coroner’s findings the child’s seat was not strapped in by a seat belt.

One-year-old Alexandra Greer died Tuesday night when the bag deployed, decapitating her.

“I had never taken my baby in the car without belting her in,” Rebecca Blackman said Friday. “I wanted to get her out of the car. … It (unstrapping the seat belt) was the first thing I did after the accident.”

Blackman, 21, said her daughter was strapped into a forward-facing car seat by a seat belt when she rear-ended another car in a parking lot and the air bag exploded.

Although the investigation is on-going, Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg said Wednesday that Alexandra was killed when she flew forward into the air bag because she was not belted in.

Sonnenberg determined that direct impact with the air bag, and not with any other object, killed the baby. And he backed his findings Friday.

“Since we’re dealing with such a sensitive situation, I’ve been hesitant to talk about this,” the coroner said. “But let’s just say we haven’t seen anything to indicate the baby was strapped in.”

Sonnenberg said the seriousness of Greer’s injuries and the absence of marks on the car seat that would have been evident if a seat belt had restrained it helped him make his determination.

Boise police would not say whether they will file charges against Blackman. Idaho law requires that children younger than 4 or under 40 pounds be secured when riding in a car.

An investigator from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration arrived in Boise on Friday. He will join local police and Volkswagen investigators examining evidence.

Federal officials recommend placing all children 12 years of age and younger in the rear seat. If that is not an option, parents must be sure the child is properly restrained in its seat which faces the dashboard.

Parents should push the vehicle’s seat all the way back, to maximize the distance between the child and the air bag.

The Greer baby was the 32nd child since 1990 killed in accidents involving government-mandated air bags. Half were older kids, ages 2 and up.


© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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