A double-fatal crash Sunday morning in Sugarcreek Twp. is serving as a tragic reminder about properly restraining children in vehicles.
The single-vehicle crash on Wilmington-Dayton Road claimed the lives of a 5-year-old girl and 23-year-old Menley C. Downs of Waynesville, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The driver, 30-year-old Adam C. Bishop, was taken by life squad to Kettering Hospital where he was listed in critical, but stable condition, according to the patrol. A second child, a 6-year-old boy, also was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment.
Bishop was driving a black Toyota Corolla north on Wilmington-Dayton Road when the vehicle went off the left side of the road and struck a rock culvert, according to the patrol. There were no skid marks or signs that the driver tried to stop the vehicle, and it was not immediately clear why the vehicle veered off the left side of the road.
Downs, the front-seat passenger, and the 5-year-old girl, who was sitting in the back seat with the 6-year-old boy, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the patrol.
Bishop is the father of the two children. They were wearing seat belts, but state law requires children younger than 8 to be secured in booster seats, according to Lt. Matt Schmenk, OSHP Xenia Post commander.
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“Once the crash is complete, we will forward the completed report to the Greene County Common Pleas prosecutor for review,” Schmenk said.
Ohio law states that children up to 4 years old or less than 40 pounds must be secured in a children’s car seat, while children ages 4 to 8, or less than 4 feet, 9 inches must be secured in booster seats.
“Seat belts are not made for children. They are made for adults and people who are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches,” said Abbey Rymarczyk, community relations prevention coordinator at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Rymarczyk said the height regulation is important because if a child is being restrained by a seat belt, it can cause damage to the neck and stomach in the event of a crash.
“A seat belt does not restrain a child properly because it’s not going across their shoulder and across their lap,” she said.
Dayton Children’s Hospital provides car-seat checks by appointment every fourth Thursday of the month. Staff members check to make sure the car seat is properly installed and it’s not under recall.
Rymarczyk said a good way to determine whether a child is ready for a seat belt is if their feet are planted on the floor while seated.
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“I know a lot of 9-, 10- and 11-year-olds who are still in booster seats because of that,” she said.
Investigators are awaiting results from toxicology tests and looking into other factors, including a cellphone found at the scene and the vehicle’s speed, to determine a possible cause in the crash.