A mother has experienced the worst shock of her life after an unfortunate accident.
A two-year-old Graaff-Reinet boy died after his mother allegedly reversed her car into him, Eastern Cape police said on Saturday.
“It is alleged that a two-year-old child was killed when the child’s mother reversed her vehicle, not knowing the child was behind the car, causing serious injury to the child,” police spokesperson Captain Bradley Rawlinson said.
The incident occurred at around 17:30 on Thursday.
The child was taken to Midlands Hospital but was certified dead on arrival.
Rawlinson said they were investigating a case of culpable homicide.
Paramedics have sent out an important message to drivers: be alert when reversing your vehicle.
This comes after several incidents in which paramedics have had to attend to motorists reversing into children.
In one incident, the paramedics attended to a one-year-old who was fatally injured when a vehicle knocked him over while reversing.
According to Paramedic Cameron Horner, who attended to three incidents that involved toddlers being run over.
He said it was important to make sure children were out of harm’s way at all times.
“Put them in the vehicle first or make sure somebody is holding them a safe distance away from a moving vehicle.
“If you are in an area where you know there are children, make sure you look around before reversing,” he said.
Dr Vernon Wessels said injuries to an infant or toddler could vary from slight bruising to severe soft tissue injuries, fractures and internal organ injuries.
Liver ruptures, pelvis fractures and head injuries were some of the life-threatening injuries children can sustain.
“Injuries can lead to loss of blood, inability to breathe effectively and loss of life,” he warned.
“Non-life-threatening injuries can lead to loss of function of the affected part, often permanently, amputation of injured limbs and potential infection after the injury which could, in turn lead to various complications including threat to life.”
“They’re reported as pedestrian accidents,” she said. “There have been a couple in parking lots, but there are no statistics.”
Red Cross Children’s Hospital’s Professor Sebastian van As said they received at least 10 cases annually of children being reversed over.
“It’s a big problem internationally as well, especially in the UK,” he said. “It has increased over seven times there.”
Van As said the problem was worse now with people driving 4x4s.
“People look into their mirrors but can’t see and the cars have big spaces underneath making it even harder.
“The bottom-line main message is people who have small children must never reverse if they do not know where their children are,” he said.
LOSS OF TRUST
Psychologist and counsellor Sarah Cohen-Schwarz said children lost their trust for their parents in incidents where their parents were the cause of the accident.
“Children often feel like it is their fault. The adults will have to rework their trust and apologise to their children.
“They have to set safety rules with the children so they feel safe,” she said.
Cohen-Schwarz said the incidents were extremely traumatising.
She said when children died as a result of these incidents, the guilt of the driver of the vehicle was enormous and that person required professional intervention.
“Older children are more aware of the situation, but younger children need the adults to be aware.
“After the event, if the adult or the children are not getting back to their normal self within four to six weeks, it is important they see a professional because the issues are not being resolved,” she said.
Cohen-Schwarz said children’s ability to adapt could also help ease the process of healing.
“They need a great deal of comforting, they need the adults to acknowledge the incidents and their feelings about it and also to be reassured that something like that will never happen again,” she said.
IN AN EMERGENCY
What to do if you find yourself in an incident where someone has been reversed into:
First ensure your safety. The vehicle needs to be switched off and prevented from further movement.
Try not to move the injured person unnecessarily as this may cause further injury. However, if the person is in danger or unable to breathe, sufficient movement to remove the person from danger or to open the airway should be done as carefully as possible.
Control visible bleeding by direct pressure on the wound with a clean dressing or piece of cloth.
Do not give the person anything to drink until professional medical help has arrived.