Austin girl reminds parents to keep kids safe on road


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News aand photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 17 at 6:00 PM

AUSTIN -- As part of National Child Safety Week experts across Central Texas are reminding parents to buckle up their children. It was a lesson one Austin girl learned first-hand, and she knows just how lucky she is to be alive.

“It smelt like smoke and there was glass everywhere,” Ilaria Castro said as she recounted the accident. 

When she was 8-years-old a drunk driver slammed head-on into her family's car. She says she'll never forget what emergency personnel told her after the accident.

“If I wouldn't have been in a booster I would have flown around. The seat belt would have slit my throat,” Ilaria said.

The young girl and experts at Dell Children's Medical Center hope parents get the message: always properly restrain your child in a vehicle, no matter what.

“One in four parents admits to having driven without their child being buckled up in a car seat or a booster seat,” said Stephanie Hebert of Safe Kids Austin. “Six percent of parents said it was acceptable to drive their child unrestrained if they weren't going too far.”

TXDOT used a rollover crash simulator to show what can happen to kids and adults who aren't properly restrained.

“The number one cause of death in children one year -- up to teen aged years, and into adulthood -- is trauma,” said Dr. Pat Crocker, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dell Childrens. “And the most common injury that causes death is a head injury. One of the saddest things we see is a child who's severely injured, maybe head injured, and we find out the child was not restrained, and maybe those injuries could have been prevented.”

Texas law says infants should sit in a rear facing car seat. Toddlers can face forward. Kids between four and seven should use a booster seat.

Ilaria says she's living proof  they can save a life.

“There are not really any excuses for not wearing a seat belt and being in a booster,” she said. 

This Saturday parents can have certified child safety technicians check their car seats and make sure they're installed properly.

It's happening from 9:00 a.m. to noon at Grant AME Church at 1701 Kramer Lane.