A mom installed her baby's car seat incorrectly, then had a car wreck. Her baby died as a result. Now she's been charged with vehicular manslaughter. Is this okay?
Because she was just driving a "couple of blocks," Eileen Jensen put her 3-year-old daughter Chloe's car seat in the front seat, while her other two daughters sat in the back.
According to court records, Jensen caused a three-car crash when she smashed into the back of a stopped minivan. Her daughter suffered massive brain trauma from the impact of the car's air bag, and died 10 months later.
Now this mother been charged with vehicular manslaughter.
If convicted, it could be the first time in Washington a parent has been held accountable for the death of a child stemming from an improperly installed car seat, prosecutors and police say.
In the court document, Jensen said she was sleep deprived, which may have contributed to her blacking out. She also told police she regularly put Chloe in the front seat. Regarding the air bag, "It just wasn't something I was thinking about," she said.
Putting a child's head in front of an air bag is like "putting the child's head in front of an explosion," said Alan Korn, director of public policy for Safe Kids USA, a national nonprofit organization focused on preventing childhood injuries.
Los Angeles attorney and mom of two Christina Coleman says: "The question might arise whether, in the opinion of some, should she be made an example out of with the hopes of her story having a deterrent effect on others? I am not convinced it would. No mother deliberately puts her child in harm's way, and other mothers reading the story are more likely to simply condemn the mother for her stupidity and recklessness, without applying it to their own mothering, which they likely feel is just fine. The only ones who might be deterred are those who did not understand before the hearing the story that it was, in fact, dangerous for an infant in a rear-facing car seat to be placed in the front seat. But the very fact of the story and the publicity it is getting would have the same deterrent effect (through education)."
Christina continues: "A more appropriate approach might be for child welfare services to be involved and put the mother on 'probation' with respect to her surviving children and require she undergo mandatory parenting and/or safety classes before her probation is lifted."
Do you think this mother should be charged ... or is losing a child punishment enough?