This holiday season, Tatiana Johnson has 4 years’ worth of reasons to be grateful. In December 2011, through her perseverance, she was able to avoid one of life’s worst tragedies—the death of her child.
Ms. Johnson knew that properly installing her son’s car seat was critical and her dedication paid off on when the vehicle her son was riding in was involved in a high speed collision and veered off US 1, overturning. By all accounts, including Florida Highway Patrol officers at the scene, it was a horrific wreck. However, due to the education she received during an earlier car seat installation event sponsored by the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition, Ms. Johnson’s car seat was safely installed and her infant son survived the wreck with only a small scratch on his cheek.
Ms. Johnson claims it is truly a miracle and expressed her gratitude for the Coalition’s car seat program which educated her on the appropriate car seat safety and literally saved her son’s life. She is also thankful that the program was able to equip her with a safe, secure and low-cost seat; the vehicle’s roof was collapsed to the extent that the child’s only protection was from the top of his car seat.
Since the wreck 4 years ago, little Ralphael has been safely riding in a replacement seat provided by the Coalition. Now a preschooler, he has outgrown that seat. When it was time for assistance with selecting and installing his new one, Ms. Johnson knew just who to call—the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition. She made an appointment with Program Coordinator Leah Stockton and Ralphael, as well as his new baby sister, continue to ride safely around the streets of Key West.
Thinking back on the tragic outcome that was so narrowly avoided, Ms. Johnson says, “It reminds me of what great parents we are. It should be every parents’ priority and responsibility to protect their children. We believe Ralphael and his father had special angels protecting them that day.”
As with many parents who attend a car seat installation event, Ms. Johnson said she learned a lot at the event and was proud that she took the time to seek help, was able to apply that information to safely transport her son, and saved his life.
Ms. Johnson encourages other parents to take advantage of the Coalition’s and other agencies’ programs for families, “We all can really benefit from the support and resources for families in the community. We only have one chance to raise our babies, and I want to get it right the first time!”
“When it comes to the safety of a child, we all want to do our very best,” said Arianna Nesbitt, Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition’s CEO. “Our goal is to empower families to create a safe environment for their children which includes that car seats are used properly by everyone, every time.”
Parents who are struggling with raising a family should know that there are resources available within the community that can assist them. Agencies such as the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition which serves pregnant women and families with children up to age 3 can provide referrals, education and other resources. There is much more to child safety than the obvious answers of having your child wear sunscreen, avoiding accidental poisonings and not allowing children to cross the street alone.