Mom's 'nagging' text about baby's car seat saved his life in car wreck

On her first day back to work after maternity leave, Memphis mom Rebecca Tafaro Boyer told her husband David she wanted “hourly updates and recaps” on how their 3-month-old baby William was handling his first day away from his mother. David obligingly texted updates throughout the day, including a photo of William in his car seat during their trip to Walgreens.

“My nagging wife reply was to correct William’s position in the car seat,” Boyer recounted in a Facebook post on that July, 2018 day. “The straps were too loose and the chest clip was way too low. And because I know my husband, I’m sure that he laughed at me and rolled his eyes before tightening the car seat and fixing the chest clip.”

Fifteen minutes later, Boyer’s phone rang with a call from her husband: “Honey, we had a car wreck. We are fine, but the car is going to be totaled.” Less than 3 miles from their house, Boyer recounted, a woman had pulled into traffic to turn left and her husband hadn’t had enough time to stop.

Boyer “slammed on the brakes at nearly 50 miles an hour before colliding with the front passenger side door of her SUV,” the new mother recounted in her Facebook post. The proper use of the car seat saved baby William’s life.

Car seat, infant safety, TODAY, Parenting (Rebecca Tafaro Boyer)
Car seat, infant safety, TODAY, Parenting (Rebecca Tafaro Boyer)

“My precious little bundle of joy was so well restrained in his car seat THAT HE DIDN’T EVEN WAKE UP. Even with the impact of the two cars, William only received a minor jolt — so insignificant that he was able to continue on with his nap, and then spend the next two hours flirting with nurses in the Le Bonheur ED.”

Her husband, Boyer said, wasn’t so lucky: He was on crutches, with his foot broken in three places and three dislocated toes. The car is a total loss, “but cars can be replaced — my boys can’t,” she wrote.

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Boyer shared her story, she told TODAY Parents, in order to stress that car seats do save lives, and that all infants should be rear facing in back seats of cars until age 2 and secured in a five point harness in a car seat base that doesn’t move more than one inch in any direction.

“I am so thankful that my husband took the extra one minute that was necessary to put William in his car seat safely. I can’t even begin to imagine how different the outcome could have been,” Boyer wrote. “I truly believe that the reason my family is at home sitting on the couch with a pair of crutches instead of down at the hospital is because of my annoying nagging mom voice.”

Car seat, infant safety, TODAY, Parenting (Rebecca Tafaro Boyer)
Car seat, infant safety, TODAY, Parenting (Rebecca Tafaro Boyer)

Boyer told TODAY that she made the post public when her friends asked if they could share her story with their friends. She was “shocked,” she said, when the post went viral with over 31,000 shares.

“I will just never forget the feeling I had when I pulled up to the scene of the accident and saw with my own eyes that they were OK,” Boyer said, adding that she wanted to share that feeling of gratitude.

Readers tagged the Britax car seat company when they saw that the seat that saved William’s life was the Britax BSafe 35, at which point, Boyer said, the car seat company reached out to see if they could replace the seat for free (once a car seat is in an accident, it cannot be used again).

Boyer said that while she appreciated the offer, she and her husband had already replaced their car seat with another Britax thanks to their insurance company. Instead, Boyer told TODAY, she asked Britax to donate a car seat to the Forrest Spence Fund in Memphis, Tenn., a nonprofit which helps families of children with critical or chronic illnesses with every day needs. And even the unusable old car seat will be repurposed: “Our old damaged car seat will be donated to the NICU at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital so it can be used to educate new parents on how to safely and properly secure their newborns,” Boyer wrote.

The only downside of going viral? “My husband says, ‘I’m never going to live this down, am I?’" Boyer laughs.

Editor's note: This story was first published on July 31, 2018.

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