Children's car seats saving lives, say police

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 21/01/2013
ACCIDENT AFTERMATH: What remained of the SUV after it rolled on the Taupo bypass with a family of four inside.
GREENLEA RESCUE HELICOPTER

ACCIDENT AFTERMATH: What remained of the SUV after it rolled on the Taupo bypass with a family of four inside.

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Child restraints have again been hailed as life savers after a boy and a baby girl suffered moderate injuries in a serious road crash near Taupo on Saturday.

The 25-year-old father, who was driving the vehicle, suffered severe head and airway injuries and was left fighting for his life at Waikato Hospital.

Last night he remained in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.

The mother, also 25, was in a serious but stable condition on Saturday night and was stable in a ward.

Their two children were stable in the Waikids surgical ward.

The Taupo residents were travelling on the East Taupo Arterial bypass north of the Centennial Drive interchange when their SUV (sports utility vehicle) rolled about noon. Senior Sergeant Fane Troy, of the Taupo area road policing group, said the children's injuries could have been worse if they had not been restrained.

"Everyone in the car needs to ensure they wear their safety belts or are in an approved child restraint," he said.

"Seatbelts do save lives."

The stretch of 100kmh road was dry at the time of the accident and the weather was fine. Police are investigating the cause of the crash.

Taupo fire station officer Graeme Trainor attended the emergency callout and said they cut a door off the vehicle to get the father out.

"The way the vehicle was damaged the doors were shut and so we had to remove the front passenger's door to allow easier extrication of the patient."

Taupo's Greenlea rescue helicopter transported the man, while the woman followed in Rotorua's Baytrust helicopter and their children were airlifted in the Westpac Waikato air ambulance.

The crash comes after police hailed a car seat as the difference between life and death for an Australian boy who was involved in a three-car crash on the outskirts of Raglan earlier this month.

The 3-year-old was also a passenger in a SUV. "If you look at the images [of the wreckage] there can be no doubt in anyone's mind - that car seat saved the little boy's life," Waikato district road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said.

It appeared the crash on State Highway 23 was caused when the maroon SUV crossed the centre line and clipped an oncoming eastbound car before colliding with an oncoming 4x4 utility about 4.40pm on January 11.

The female driver of the rented SUV and her 10-year-old daughter were taken to Waikato Hospital by ambulance and treated for minor injuries. But her husband, who was in a critical condition, and their 3-year-old son were airlifted out in the same helicopter.

The 49-year-old Sydney man is still in hospital but is now stable.

Mr Lynam said the "truly remarkable thing" was that thanks to the boy being secured in an approved child car restraint he was released from hospital after four days.

When serious crash investigators reviewed the damage to the family's vehicle, and the position and type of injuries suffered, they felt it was important to highlight the value of properly installed and approved child car restraints.

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- Waikato Times

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