Earlier this week, we learned of a tragic situation in Kentucky. A five-year old boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year old sister with his own rifle. The gun had been a birthday gift and although it had a safety lock, somehow the boy was able to shoot his sister in the chest. As a Fulton County accident lawyer, I know that fatal injuries and accidents can be extremely difficult for families to overcome.
The Kentucky family has expressed their grief publicly. They are struggling with the loss of their toddler's life and are left wondering how they possibly could have left this rifle in the boy's reach while it was still loaded. This tragedy reminds us that we cannot take safety too seriously or be too mindful about what our kids are doing. There are so many distractions these days and parents are busier than ever. We must remain vigilant in protecting our kids.
But what happens when we let our driving-age kids drive their siblings and an accident occurs? This too can lead to difficult circumstances as one south Fulton County family deals with just such a situation.
Three sisters were apparently being taken to school recently by their 20-year old brother when for some reason he ran the car he was driving off the road, hit a mailbox and then struck a tree. The sisters (ages 5, 7 and 13) were taken to Children's Heathcare of Atlanta at Egleston and underwent surgeries, but according to reports, they do not have life-threatening injuries. The driver was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, but apparently is not seriously injured either.
This crash occurred in good weather in the morning hours when visibility is not an issue. The older brother has been cited for failure to maintain his lane of traffic and two counts of child restraint violations. The child restraint counts would indicate that the children were not properly restrained in the car.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-8-76 mandates the use of safety belts and children's safety restraints. Passenger cars are required to have safety belts and drivers are required to restrain kids under the age of eight when driving them in any passenger vehicle such as a car, pick up truck, van or other vehicle as stated in this provision: "[w]hile such motor vehicle is in motion and operated on a public road, street, or highway of this state, [the driver must] provide for the proper restraint of such child in a child passenger restraining system appropriate for such child's height and weight and approved by the United States Department of Transportation under provisions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 in effect on January 1, 1983, or at the time of manufacture." In general, kids must sit in the rear seat of the vehicle.
Before you send your kids out with an older sibling, make sure that sibling knows how to place younger children in a restraint, such as a safety belt or car seat. Also make sure that your driving age teens or young adults do NOT use cell phones or text while driving. We are all aware that this sort of distracted driving can lead to an accident and that teens and young adults are most vulnerable to using these devices while driving.