HIGH POINT, N.C. – She was energetic and talkative – “Sassy,” her mother proudly described her. “She could hold a grown folks’ conversation.”
The 4-year-old little girl had three older brothers and a 1-year-old sister. “Her proudest accomplishment was being a big sister,” one of her aunts said.
The accident that took her from her family happened in their driveway about 5 p.m., Monday, Jan. 7, in her neighborhood in south High Point.
Image / Wikimedia Commons
(Typical 2006-08 Chevy Trailblazer)
It bears a striking resemblance to another accident in High Point that hurt another child in October 2011. An investigator for Egerton Law firm examined the vehicle in that incident and found a malfunction in the car’s ignition interlock system: In short, a broken part allowed the gear lever to slip out of the “Park” position. The same potential defect was found to exist in thousands of minivans and SUVs – and later resulted in 807,000 vehicles being recalled. (Certain Honda Odysseys and Pilots, model years 2003-2004, and Acura MDXs, model years 2003-2006)
Reports of the more recent accident on Jan. 7, 2013, which took the life of the 4-year-old, said the child was playing behind the family vehicle, a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer. She possibly had gotten her backpack out of the SUV and walked behind it.
The car rolled backward down the driveway, which is on a slight incline. The girl suffered severe head injuries, and was taken to High Point Regional Hospital. She was transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, but died the next day.
The High Point Police Department is investigating the incident. Authorities said they do not believe anyone was in the car when it began to roll. One officer said that traffic investigators were still trying to determine whether the car somehow slipped out of gear and began rolling along the driveway.
We can only hope that investigators will uncover what the cause of the accident was. Such small things could happen that would result in such tremendous loss. Was the gear lever accidentally shifted out of park? Did some vitally important part of the car simply fail?
In the October 2011 incident, which Egerton Law handled, a 2-year-old child inside a minivan shifted the vehicle out of park. It then rolled down a grade, causing injuries to two people: a neighbor and an 8-year-old girl.
Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards require that a vehicle with the transmission in the park position must not shift from the park position unless a key is placed in the ignition and the brake pedal is depressed. An investigation showed that the vehicle in the 2011 incident could be taken out of park without the key in the ignition and without the brake pedal being used.
As I said, the investigation of the fatal accident of a week ago is ongoing, but one thing is certain – there was no person in the vehicle who could have pressed the brake.
Another thing that is certain now is the depth of this family’s loss. Four years old is such a beautiful age for a child. A little girl who loved “Hello Kitty” and dancing and the color pink has left an empty space in the lives of all who knew her.
It is hard to come to grips with an accident that takes a child’s life. As her teacher said in an interview with Fox 8 News, she felt as if the girl had been her own daughter. “I didn’t think that it – it couldn’t be my kid that that happened to. You hear about it in the news all the time, but you wouldn’t expect it to be yours.”