A Massachusetts mom is sharing an important warning after her 8-year-old son was nearly suffocated by a seat belt.
Siobhan Sherbovich says she was driving home from an ice cream date with her children Brayden and Maya, 3, on Saturday, when suddenly she heard a struggle in the backseat of her car.
Brayden had somehow became tangled in his seat belt, which hangs from the ceiling, and was struggling to breathe.
“It was completely twisted around his neck,” Sherbovich, who lives outside Boston, told TODAY Parents.
Moments later, the third grader turned blue.
“There was blood coming out of his nose and mouth and his head was three times its normal size. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth,” Sherbovich, 37, recalled. “Then he went completely unconscious.”
Unable to release him from the belt’s locking mechanism, a quick-thinking Sherbovich rushed into a nearby hair salon and grabbed a pair of scissors.
Sherbovich was then able to free her child and begin performing CPR, according to the police report.
After what felt like an eternity, Brayden finally gasped for air and asked what had happened.
Brayden was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, according to the police report, where he was treated treated for his injuries. Bedford Police responded to the scene and documented the incident.
Though Brayden has been cleared by doctors to resume normal activities, Sherbovich said that he will be working with a therapist because of the psychological trauma.
While it’s difficult for Sherbovich to recount details from the day, she’s adamant about sharing the story to raise awareness.
“Everybody should be prepared with seat belt cutters. I don’t know what I would have done if we hadn’t been next to a salon,” Sherbovich said.
Amy Artuso, senior program manager of transportation safety at the National Safety Council (NSC) echoed Sherbovich’s advice.
“NSC recommends all drivers keep a seat belt cutter securely stored in their console at all times,” Artuso told TODAY Parents. “The tool should be a part of the vehicle’s emergency kit.”
Artuso also noted that seat belts are not one-size-fits-all.
“Fit can vary between between vehicles and proper use is dependent on a child’s height and developmental level,” Artuso explained. “The best way to ensure that children are properly secured in a vehicle, with the best fit to maximize safety, is to have a certified child passenger safety technician assess your child and vehicle.”
Jalesa Campbell, a safety and security reporter for Safety.com, recommends giving your child a tutorial on seat belts before graduating from a car seat. According to Campbell, there have been 11 reported deaths from seat belt strangulation since 1990.
“When they’re ready to make the transition to traditional seat belt, it’s important to reach them how a seat belt works, including how to avoid activating the locking mechanism,” Campbell told TODAY Parents
Sherbovich’s car is a 2017 Acura MDX. A spokesperson for Acura told TODAY Parents in a statement that the company “is working to gather more information and cannot confirm what may have occurred in this case. However, media reporting and information released by the Bedford Police and Fire departments indicate that a child became entangled in a rear seat belt.”
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