CEDAR HILL, Texas (KETK) – Beatrice Payne is a mom on a mission.
Payne is an evangelist preaching the importance of child car seat safety.
It’s a role she came to not by choice, but out of painful reality.
“If my testimony can help someone else be aware so that their kid can be ok, I’m fine by that,” she said.
Last fall, Payne, her fiance and two children were visiting family in Mississippi when it happened.
“We seen the car coming so fast and at that moment everybody started screaming,” she recalled.
In an instant, a horrific crash claimed the life of Payne’s fiance, Anthony. She too, was injured.
“I think I was more broken when I actually turned around and seen my babies bodies there just helpless,” she said.
Her newborn baby boy and 6-year-old daughter, both strapped in their car seats, were badly hurt.
Now, nine months later, mom and kids are on the mend. And grateful.
“I was able to obtain knowledge and use it in my life and use it,” she said. “Ultimately it saved my daughter’s life.”
That life-saving knowledge was how to properly install a child car safety seat.
Shortly before the crash, Payne just happened to seek training on proper car seat installation by Cedar Hill’s fire inspector, Tammie Cooper.
In that training, Payne found not just the right fit for her son, but also the realization that her daughter needed a booster seat.
“To see those babies and hold those babies and hug those babies and just knowing that they’re here because of the help I gave her meant everything to me,” said Cooper.
She is among a few certified car seat technicians in the area, offering training on how to find and install the proper child car seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children. From 2012 to 2016, there were 3,268 children under 13 killed while riding in passenger vehicles, and these tragic figures have been increasing steadily since 2014.
In her more than seven years of experience, Cooper says she’s found that about 99% of the time families make mistakes in stalling child car seats.
“Every car seat doesn’t fit every car perfectly and so it’s a lot of factors that go into the proper fitting,” she said.
“I’ll forever be thankful for her because my children are here,” Payne said.
She hopes all families seek proper training in securing the most precious of cargo on the road.
Child Passenger Safety Week starts September 23. A number of fire departments hold car seat installation trainings during the week every year. Please check with your local fire department to see if it will be hosting a session.
You can use this simple search tool to find a car seat inspection station near you right now or visit a car seat check in your community on National Seat Check Saturday on September 29.