Authorities and safety experts are reminding parents to properly use child safety seats following a traffic crash Wednesday that killed a toddler.
At 7:49 a.m., the Fort Myers Police Department responded to a crash near the intersection of Fowler Street and Market Street. The driver of a Cadillac, Monique Daghra, 31, of Cape Coral, had allegedly rear-ended another vehicle.
A 2-year-old girl in the Cadillac, Eva Daghra, was trauma alerted to Lee Memorial Hospital. She later died from the injuries that she sustained.
No one else was injured in the accident.
According to police, Eva was sitting in the front passenger seat in a car seat, but she was not harnessed into the car seat. The car seat also was not anchored down to the Cadillac. During the accident, the air bag deployed.
"The investigation remains ongoing," Shelly Flynn, the spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Police Department, said Thursday.
Once the investigation is complete, it will be sent to the State Attorney's Office for review. Fort Myers police are working with the state on the case.
"Ultimately, they are the agency that will file charges, if they decide to do that," Flynn said.
Local parents meanwhile are reminded of the importance of properly using child safety seats. The FMPD has two certified child safety seat technicians who can educate parents on the proper use and installation of child seats.
Safe Kids Lee/Collier Counties, whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injuries, hosts car seat safety inspections in the area. Parents get one-on-one instruction on how to properly install and use their child's seat.
For a list of local inspection stations, visit: safekidsleecollier.org, or to set up at appointment, call 343-5803. Upcoming safety inspections include:
- March 17: South Trail Fire and Rescue, Station 62, at 13500 Sophomore Lane, Fort Myers
- April 14: Hendry County Health Department, at 1140 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle
Parents should bring their child, the child safety seat, the instructions to the child safety seat and the instructions to their vehicle. The events are free.
According to a statement Thursday from Safe Kids Lee/Collier Counties, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children, due largely to the non-use or improper use of safety seats and seat belts.
"It is important that all children are properly secured in the appropriate car seat, booster seat or seat belt, which offers the best protection for children in the event of a crash," officials reported.
Child safety seats reportedly reduce fatal injuries by 72 percent in children younger than 1 year old when used properly and 54 percent for children 1 to 4. Children ages 2 to 6 who are secured in the back seat in a safety seat are about 28 percent less likely to get a fatal injury than those using seat belts.
Safe Kids Lee/Collier Counties offered parents the following tips:
- Back to 2!: Children should be kept in a rear-facing car seat until the age of 2, or until they reach the maximum height or weight for their car seat.
- Booster seats: Children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for a child safety seat should utilize a belt positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they reach 4 feet 9 inches and are between ages 8 and 12.
The Fort Myers Police Department can be reached at 321-7700.