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Experts show how to use child safety restraints after fatal crash in Muncie

MUNCIE, Ind. -- A crash in Muncie claimed the life of a 6-year-old girl Sunday.  State police investigators say the girl’s mother, Jessica Skeens, was driving. Skeens’ boyfriend, Nathaniel Jordan, was arrested and charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, criminal recklessness and domestic battery.

Investigators say Jordan was hitting Skeens, causing her to lose control of the van. The van rolled and crashed at the top of a hill. Investigators believe alcohol played a factor and more charges could be filed.

According to reports from investigators, the little girl, identified as Taelyn Woodson, and another child were in the backseat of the van and were not wearing safety restraints. Woodson was partially ejected from the van and died at the scene.

Bargersville Fire Department Chief Eric Funkhouser isn't involved in this case, but is an expert in child safety restraints. He said children around Taelyn's age should be in a booster seat.

"What it does is it raises them up off the seat and gets the seat belt in the proper position," he said.

It's recommended that kids and teens up to 13 years sit in the backseat. Funkhouser also said 7 to 8 of every 10 car seats are installed improperly. In order for a car or booster seat to do its job, it must be installed properly.

In a booster seat, the idea is to raise a child up high enough so that the seatbelt fits properly. In the backseat, a child should have the backs of their legs hitting the seat and their feet touching the floor. For a good seatbelt fit, it should come across the shoulder, not neck. The lap belt should fit across the lower lap and not stomach.

In a car seat, it's recommended that children under the age of 2 sit rear-facing. There should be less than an inch of movement each way once the car seat is buckled.

Here are some other important tips to follow:

  • If you're buying a used car seat, make sure it hasn't expired. Also, check the expiration date on the seat you use.
  • If the car seat has been involved in a crash previously, stop using it and throw it out.
  • Register your car seat online so the manufacturer can send you important information if there is a recall.
  • Have your car seat checked by a certified car seat technician.

For a list of places near you to check the fit of your car seats, click here.