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Child passenger safety stressed after 2 recent accidents
This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week
Lindsay Burton recently buckles her son West into a car seat. This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week. - photo by Tom Reed

Child Passenger Safety Week events

Child Safety Seat Check
When: 2-7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Dairy Queen, 951 Green St., Gainesville

Safe Kids Monthly Coalition Meeting
When: Noon Wednesday
Where: Featherbone Communiversity, 615 Oak St., Gainesville

CPS Education Display
When: 10 a.m.-noon Friday
Where: Interactive Neighborhood for Kids, 999 Chestnut St., Gainesville

CPS Education Display
When: 2-4 p.m. Friday
Where: The Longstreet Clinic Department of Pediatrics, 725 Jesse Jewell Parkway

Child Safety Seat Check
When: 2:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Target, 514 Shallowford Road, Gainesville

Recent wrecks involving children being seriously injured have many Hall County authorities focusing on child passenger safety.

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, a campaign to bring public attention to the importance of properly securing children in a vehicle.

“No. 1 is ... to educate parents and caregivers of the proper techniques and installation of the child safety seats,” said Kevin Holbrook, public information officer for the Gainesville Police Department.

Within the past three weeks, two different Hall County wrecks have resulted in the deaths of two children and seriously injured several others.

In both wrecks, the children were not properly restrained, authorities said.

In one wreck on the morning of Aug. 30, Matthew Boozer, 37, of Buford, was driving his two children when he failed to maintain his lane and struck a concrete mixer truck head-on. His son, Carter Boozer, 7, died from his injuries Sept. 9.

In another wreck Aug. 31, Sabrina McCollum was driving four children to school in a 1978 Ford pickup truck when she went off the road and struck a tree.

Gabriel McCollum, 11, died Sept. 1 from injuries sustained from that wreck.

Officials believe none of the passengers in the truck were wearing seat belts. As a result Sabrina McCollum was cited and accused of child restraint and seat belt violations.

“It was very sad and my heart goes out to the families of those children,” said Kim Martin, coordinator of Safe Kids Gainesville, who is organizing several events throughout the week.

Georgia Booster Seat Law was altered July 1 to require children under age 8 to be in a child safety seat or booster seat as opposed to the previous age of 6.

Children under age 8 also are required to be restrained in the back seat unless the vehicle is a single cab pickup truck. If there is no back seat, the passenger airbag must be disabled.

“We did a great job this summer of trying to bring awareness to that,” Martin said.

Two safety seat checks and information sessions will be held throughout the week in order to further bring awareness to the importance of properly securing children.

They will be held Tuesday at the Dairy Queen and Saturday at the Target in Gainesville.

“Anyone that wants to get their seat checked to make sure it’s properly installed, make sure it’s an appropriate seat for the child; they can come and we’ll have certified technicians that will check the seat and make any corrections if needed,” Martin said.

Martin will be hosting information sessions on Friday at Interactive Neighborhood for Kids from 10 a.m.-noon and at Longstreet Clinic from 2-4 p.m.

She said those information sessions will provide “safety tips, measure and weigh children because a lot of times they don’t know exactly what their kids weigh, especially these young ones that are growing very fast ... and just answer questions.”

Authorities hope the week will bring awareness to child passenger safety in order to prevent further child deaths as a result of not being properly secured.

“Given the recent tragedies that have stricken Hall County in the past few weeks ... not that it’s ever a good time to have to get out and do this type of stuff, but it’s a little more on people’s minds,” Holbrook said.