Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday from the mother of an eight-year-old girl who now must use a wheelchair.
The Moorhead girl suffered severe spinal cord injuries in a car crash last summer. She wasn’t using a child restraint when her grandmother lost control and hit a tree.
Dixie Duncan says a booster seat would have prevented her daughter’s injuries.
“There are days where we cry as Brynn comes home from school saying it’s hard to watch her friends run in class cause she doesn’t run with [them] anymore,” Duncan said.
The booster bill, if passed will make it illegal for children under the age of eight or children shorter than 4 feet 9 inches to be restrained in a vehicle without a booster seat. The current law requires those restraints for children under the age of four.
“I’m personally most saddened when the injuries could have been easily prevented,” said doctor Andrew Kiragu, Medical Director, of the Intensive Care Unite at Hennepin County Medical Center. He was one of the physicians working on Brynn during the near two months of her hospitalization.
“Forty-eight percent of children between the ages of four and eight who are killed in motor vehicle crashes were unrestrained,” Doctor Andrew Kiragu, Medical Director, of the Intensive Care Unit at Hennepin County Medical Center said.
Brynn’s spinal cord was permanently severed at the waist, Dr. Kiragu said. In the accident Brynn’s seat belt rose above her lap and onto her stomach. And she had put the seat belt behind her back, like most children do, Kiragu said.
“It is clear that a child cannot safely use an adult seat belt alone until they’re a minimum of 4 feet 9 inches tall;” Kiragu said.
“Had it been state law, this never would have happened. The buckle saved her life, but a booster seat would have saved her from a spinal cord injury,” Duncan said.
Minnesota is one of six states that doesn’t have a law like this already in place, Kiragu said.
By Christine O’Donnell, KARE 11 News Capitol