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Toddler Ejected from Car Seat

Child received injuries in four-car crash.

A toddler who was ejected from his car seat and seriously injured in a crash was expected to be released from the hospital this week, officials said.

The 2-year-old boy was airlifted to Inova Fairfax Hospital for possible life threatening injuries last Wednesday night. The toddler was in a child safety seat, but the seat might not have been properly installed, Lt. Col. Ron Gibson of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.

He said the child was airborne inside a Honda Civic involved in a four-car crash on Route 28 in Sterling. Ambrosio Rivas Valladeres was the driver and Yolanda Amaya, 21, the mother of the toddler, was a front seat passenger. The pair, plus a back-seat passenger, were taken to Loudoun Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Investigators charged Rivas Valladares with Reckless Driving. Alcohol did not appear to be a factor. The Accident Reconstruction Team was working to determine if excessive speed was involved.

Kraig Troxell, Sheriff’s Office spokesman, provided these details. Rivas Valladares, 41, of Alexandria, was traveling northbound on Route 28 shortly after 9 p.m. when he ran a red light at the intersection of Nokes Boulevard. A 2002 Subaru, driven by Moses T. Herr, 24, of Herndon, struck the Civic as it came into its path. Herr, who also was treated for non-threatening injuries, was attempting to make a left-hand turn on a green light onto Route 28 from Nokes Boulevard. Troxell said the Civic then continued across Route 28 into a 1998 Volkswagen that was stopped at the red light in the southbound left turn lane. This triggered a chain reaction, sending the Volkswagen back into a 2003 Nissan. The drivers of the Volkswagen and the Nissan were not seriously

injured.

JOY DOTSON, Loudoun County’s Public Education Child Passenger Safety Program manager, said parents should make sure their child safety seats are properly installed. Most fire and rescue stations offer free inspections by appointment. A safety seat check also is scheduled at Babies R Us in Sterling sometime in April.

Troxell said another safety seat check was to be held from 1-4 p.m. Thursday in the parking lot of the Harmony United Methodist Church in Hamilton.

Dotson stressed the importance of getting the seats inspected. "A child can sustain very serious injuries or death can occur," she said. "It’s important to make sure the seat is properly secured and the child is properly secured in the seat."

Parents also should make sure the seat they are using has not been in a prior collision. "If there has been a major crash, they can have stress fractures and damages on the seats we can’t even see," she said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends against placing children in used seats, she said. "Since we can’t verify a seat that comes from a thrift shop or a dumpster [has not been in a crash], we won’t install that seat. We’ll recommend they get a seat they know the history of."

The inspectors also will check a recall list to see if any seats should return to the manufacturer

VIRGINIA’S LAW REQUIRES children up to age six to be in approved child safety seats. Because most six-year-olds are not adult size and big enough for seat belts, Dotson said parents should keep their children in booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches. Troxell said using seat belts on children before they have grown enough for them to fit properly can be dangerous. A shoulder belt designed for an adult can cut across the child’s neck and the lap belt can ride up over the stomach, which could cause a serious or fatal injury in a crash, he said.

The law also requires infant seats to remain rear facing until the child is one years old or 20 pounds. Rear-facing seats should never be placed in the front seat of a car equipped with an airbag .

Low-income families can contact the Health Department to see if they are eligible for free car seats.

"The national average for misuse, whether the seat or child is not secured, is about 90 percent," Dotson said. "And that’s what we’re finding locally."

Feb.13-19 is National Child Passenger Safety Week.