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Install Car Seat Wrong, Face Manslaughter?

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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?

hands in a jail cell and baby in a car seat

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?

next: Teen Doesn't Listen? Blame the Brain!
17 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous February 5, 2009, 6:01 PM

Yes she should be be tried for vehicular manslaughter. How many times have we heard about the dangers of the airbags and children under 12 years of age. Not to mention the car’s user manual and the stickers on the visors in the car. She put her child in danger by placing her in the front seat. It is just as easy to put the carseat in the back as it is in the front. Our 12 year old NEVER rode up front until he reached 12.

tlt February 5, 2009, 6:09 PM

YES, she endangered her baby every time she put it in the vehicle! That’s why the car seat comes with instructions…for the idiot’s that don’t have a clue…..maybe she can’t read either!!! Sad that it takes a baby’s death to make her pay attention and understand the reasoning of laws and instructions.

make an example out of her February 5, 2009, 6:17 PM

The title of thos post is misleading. She didn’t install the car seat incorrectly. She intentionally disregarded all the warning labels and common sense and placed her child’s life in danger. She knew what she was doing. - Regarding the air bag: “It just wasn’t something I was thinking about” - are you kidding me, this is her defence. One word, negligence…

anon February 5, 2009, 6:25 PM

Police Officer Teresa Fuller investigated the crash that resulted in the toddler’s death: “The car seat itself was installed on top of text books that were sitting on the passenger seat of the car, the car seat itself wasn’t even sitting on the seat, it was propped up on textbooks,” Officer Fuller said. Additionally witnesses to the crash say Jensen was driving recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic right before she rear-ended another car. GUILTY! Hang her, burn her at the stake!

goodbye momlogic February 5, 2009, 6:38 PM

The child was 3 MONTHS old not 3 years. Geez, who writes these articles? Are there no editors or fact checkers for internet reporting? Only believe half of what you see and none of what you hear/read I suppose. I’m done with this $hitty website. Who’s coming with me?…

Wendi February 5, 2009, 7:33 PM

This woman should be tried and convicted of manslaughter. She just did not care about the safety of her child. It makes me so sad to hear about this poor baby. God bless that little child and her siblings who now have to deal with her death.

ame i. February 6, 2009, 9:38 AM

Wow, I don’t know.
Considering she had 2 other children, she should have known better than to put an infant in the front seats, not to mention having the carseat on a stack of books.

anon February 6, 2009, 1:05 PM

This is a hard subject to tackle. Clearly the mother knew what she was doing in putting her infant in the front seat. REgardless of whether she was going a couple of blocks or a hundred miles, she intentionally put her child in danger by doing so. She has two other children, this woman knows what she did was wrong. And because of it, her baby is dead. If the tables were turned and her child was properly strapped in the back seat and someone else caused and accident that resulted in the death of her child, she would want justice. She should be charged, because of her willfull negligence, her child is dead and she needs to pay for it.

Anonymous February 11, 2009, 3:03 AM

Yes I think her bad decision should be dealt with through the courts. Everyone knows that you are not to stick children under the age of 12 in the front seat with an airbag. I teach Child Restraint safety and see people driving around with their children under 9 years of age in a front seat, with an air bag and no booster seat. I always try to share the risk it has on their child and the actual law that states you are not to do such things. Yet lots of people still do it. When will they learn if we don’t step up the law and give them the same treatment criminals get? Save our future children from lazy, unmotivated caregivers. Our children deserve a chance to live.

Susie Christiansen February 16, 2009, 11:39 PM

The irresponsible so-called Mom is where she needs to be.

momto 5 February 18, 2009, 8:57 PM

you have no idea of the story or the situation get the facts before you post

mommy February 18, 2009, 10:08 PM

no way she has suffered enough

Mother to 7 boys February 18, 2009, 10:11 PM

No way we are all guilty of improperly installing our children she has to live with not having the baby for thee rest of her life that is enough punishment.

fatherlove February 18, 2009, 10:14 PM

Since when did we get to judge a persons mistakes as crimes this is a greiving mother who will live with the loss of her daughter for the rest of her life. Drop the case. She will suffer everyday of her life. David

anothermom February 23, 2009, 4:45 AM

I think she should be convicted guilty of vehicular manslaughter and her other 2 children should be placed in the care of someone who can follow the safety warnings and regulations in a vehicle. I also read a report that said her other 2 children, aged 2 and 3…. one was not in a seatbelt the other was only in a seatbelt when they should have been in a carseat. The pain she is going through in losing her daughter is immense I am sure but even that plus being convicted and punished for her extreme negligence is NOTHING compared to what that poor innocent child suffered for TEN MONTHS before she died of her injuries. This is just so sad.

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