Emergency responders say a car crash that badly injured a toddler Monday night in Christiana was unlike anything they've ever seen. The little boy was thrown 30 feet from his parents' vehicle while still secured in his car seat.
Investigators say father Josh Carney had his 2-year-old son, Mason, in the right kind of car seat, and everything was snapped and buckled just as it should have been in their 1999 Nissan Maxima.
Still, something went wrong with the little boy's seatbelt that is shocking even to those who deal with bad crashes all the time.
"It makes you wonder how safe the seatbelts are when you strap your kid in," said family friend and neighbor Dan Finch.
After a seven-car pileup on Rutherford County's Highway 231, Carney and his son were simply waiting in the traffic backed up from the accident when they became part of a second crash.
"It totally crushed the rear end of the vehicle," said Rutherford County fire Chief Larry Farley.
A piece of mangled metal severed the child's seat belt. It sliced it just above the buckle.
"It's something that never happens," Farley said.
Farley can't stress enough that seat belts do save lives.
"I've been doing this for 25 years. I've never cut a dead person out of a seatbelt yet," he said.
Getting ejected, he says, is one of the worst things that can happen.
"The chance of survival is going to be very slim," Farley said.
Farley says this case was neither a seatbelt malfunction nor a problem with the child seat. In fact, he says, that's probably what saved Mason's life.
"The child was still in the car seat, still intact," Farley said.
It was just a freak accident and a miracle little Mason survived it.
"You know, most of us have children, and we think about our own children when we're involved in something like that. So it's kind of tough," Farley said.
"The community is praying for them. I've talked to people all around. All of them is praying for him, and they're all hoping for the best," Finch said.
Mason remains in the critical unit at Vanderbilt Children's Medical Center; however, he's in stable condition.
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