A six-month-old baby boy survived a horrific car accident last week in Maine, much to the relief of distraught onlookers and the boy's mother.
The force of the crash in suburban Raymond ripped Gabriel Blaney from the straps of his car seat and threw him 25 feet from the vehicle. He landed in snow. The boys sustained a fractured skull, but is expected to be OK, according to authorities.
Looking at the strewn wreckage of the Toyota Corolla, police said it could have been a lot worse.
Gabriel's mother, Chynna Blaney, 19, was distracted Thursday night as she adjusted her GPS, according to The Bangor Daily News, and she ran a stop sign at the intersection of North Raymond and Ledgehill roads and collided with an F-150 pickup driven by Angie Horler, 35, who had two kids of her own in the car.
She saw baby Gabriel fly out of the car.
"She didn't know it was a baby, but she knew it was something odd," Capt. Don Goulet of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office told the newspaper. "She's got young kids herself. She was very distraught over that. I give her a gold star for what she did."
What Horler did was run into the woods after the flying object, which she found at the bottom of a snow bank. Meanwhile, the boy's mother was disoriented and slow to extract herself from the Corolla.
"I realized, 'Oh my God, my baby is not in my car anymore," Chynna Blaney told ABC News. "I was yelling for my baby. I couldn't find him and I couldn't see him."
Police said they had asked the National Transportation Safety Board to aid in the investigation and help determine why the car seat failed to keep Gabriel secured inside the car. An investigation could take a month.
Tips on car seats
As any parent can tell you, properly installing a car seat can be a complicated and humbling experience. Researchers at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital say as many as 85 percent of car seats are not installed correctly.
If you're not sure whether you have installed a car seat correctly, some law-enforcement agencies will take a look at your handiwork and help, if needed. Pediatricians can also point parents in the right direction for programs, such as one at Mott, that properly install car seats for befuddled parents. Other tips:
- In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated its guidelines for the best use of infant and child car seats, and said kids should stay in rear-facing seats until their two years old.
- Children should always be kept in the back seat. If that's impossible, passenger air bags should be turned off.
- Follow the height and weight guidelines established buy the seat manufacturer.
- NHTSA also recommends keeping kids in the back seat at all times until they are teenagers.
Related story: One town attempts to outlaw distracted driving.