Samantha Swartwout’s story reveals why we must never make this mistake again

That your child might be involved in a serious accident is every parents’ worst nightmare.

While accidents are sometimes very difficult to avoid, what can be prevented are simple, obvious mistakes.

Six-year-old Samantha Swartwout was sitting in the back seat of her father’s car when he lost control of the wheel and crashed right into a tree.

And, as it would turn out, a small, obvious mistake from dad would nearly result in Samantha’s cruel and meaningless death.

A mistake that could easily have been avoided — and now Samantha’s mom wants to warn every parent out there.


Samantha and her father were returning home from a fair when the devastating accident occurred.

The father lost control of the car and drove straight into a tree. Upon arriving on scene, paramedics found a severely injured child and feared the worst.

Samantha had indeed suffered terrible injuries and remained unconscious all the way to the hospital.


Samantha fought for her life at the hospital and had it not been for incredibly skilled surgeons, she would likely not have survived.

She was practically split in two and surgeons had to sew her belly back together using new, modern technology.

To make the terrifying event even worse, it would soon be clear that this poor 6-year-old’s state could entirely have been avoided — had dad used the booster car seat.

That day, Samantha’s father forgot to take Samantha’s booster car seat with them, and she therefore sat directly on the backseat of the car, strapped in with the seat belt.


As the car crashed into the tree, the seatbelt pierced into Samantha’s belly and caused severe damage.

“The child is thrown forward with an absolutely enormous force,” Dr. Charles Bagwell from the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, told “The seat belt almost acts like a knife.”

After three weeks in hospital with mom Shelly Martin by her side day and night, Samantha was finally released.

It was a surprisingly quick recovery, according to experts.

Facebook/KRON 4 News

Trauma following the incident was been as bad as the physical injuries. Samantha suffered from nightmares and was afraid to be alone. Her large stomach wound prevented her from executing the simplest movements and she wondered if she would be like other children again.

Had Samantha been seated properly in a booster seat and properly fastened, all this pain and misery could have been avoided. That simple mistake became very costly.

“Takes two seconds”

Samantha’s mother is now urging all parents to be extra cautious and never forget their booster seats. She has seen the consequences first-hand.

“It takes two seconds to put a booster seat in the car and to strap your child in,” Shelly Martin says, adding: “It is going to save somebody.”


Worst damage with just a seatbelt

And Shelly is absolutely right: This simple action can mean the difference between life and death.

A study revealed that children aged 7-10 years placed directly on the car seat and strapped with a belt suffered much more injury than those placed on booster seats, especially in their mid-sections.

Unfortunately, there are still parents who are not aware of the severe risks that arise when a booster seat is not used when it should.

An alarming number of parents, for example, still sit their babies in car seats facing the wrong direction, that is, the front of the vehicle, even though placing your child facing the back reduces risk of serious injury by 90 percent.

Studies reveal that about 30 percent of parents still place their children facing forward.

In addition, many parents stop using car seats too early, which can also be very dangerous.

Jessica Gow/SCANPIX

Please visit the United States Department of Transportation for full rules and guidelines on how to best protect your child.

Today, Samantha is doing much better, but must return to the hospital for routine checkups.


These recurring hospital visits are very difficult for mom Shelly as they’re just a reminder at how easily the whole ordeal could have been avoided.

Fortunately, this tough little girl will soon be fully recovered and be able to grow up and do everything her friends can. That’s at least something to look forward to!


The least we can do is spread Samantha’s story so that no family or child ever has to face this kind of terrible ordeal again in the future.

Please don’t stop sharing this on Facebook to make sure Shelly’s message spreads far and wide!