An unrestrained 1-year-old boy died after he was ejected from a car when the driver lost control and hit a guardrail on the Selmon Expressway Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Troopers said the crash occurred at 11:37 p.m. as a 20-year-old Brandon woman was driving a Hyundai Sonata west in the outside lane of the Expressway and lost control.
Upon impact with the guardrail, the 1-year-old boy was ejected from the car, troopers said.
After the crash, the Hyundai collided with a Nissan Pathfinder driven by a 47-year-old woman from Riverview, troopers said.
The 1-year-old, who troopers said was from Brandon, was taken to a local hospital, where he died.
The driver who crashed into the guardrail had serious injuries. Her passenger, a 27-year-old Tampa man, had minor injuries, troopers said.
The Riverview woman in the Nissan had minor injuries, troopers said. Her passengers — a 25-year-old Riverview woman and a 6-year-old Riverview girl — were uninjured.
A spokesperson with the Florida Highway Patrol said no arrests have been made in the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.
Florida law requires any child under the age of 5 to be seated in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The best car seat is one that fits the child, the car and is used properly during each car ride, the agency’s website states.
“Having a car seat is extremely important,” said Petra Stanton, the Safe Kids Supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. “Using it correctly is just as important.”
Stanton emphasized the importance of following the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations for installing the restraint and the the vehicle’s recommendation in its user manual.
If a family owns a car seat, Stanton recommends making an appointment to have the car seat checked by a certified technician. The hospital offers in-person and virtual checks, she said. Additionally, Safe Kids has community partners across Tampa Bay that offer the same service. The technicians ensure the seat is properly installed in the vehicle and the child is secure.
The hospital also helps families who are unable to afford a car seat get one at a discount or for free, depending on the family’s need, Stanton said.
“Parents should feel empowered to contact us for their child’s safety,” Stanton said.
For more information on how to obtain a car seat or how to have a car seat checked, click here.