Toddler died because of improperly installed car seat, police say

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CLINTON — An improperly installed child seat is believed to have caused the death of an 3-year-old girl in a traffic accident Wednesday.

Marisol Isabel Guiterrez was in a child restraint seat in the back of a Pontiac Grand Am, when police say the vehicle crashed head-on with an SUV in front of Clinton Elementary School, 1101 W. 1800 North, just after 2 p.m.

"The child restraint seat was found to be improperly connected, at this time this is what we believe caused the fatal injuries," Clinton police said in a prepared statement.

Another child, Mariah Gutierrez, 18 months old, who was in a rear-facing car seat in the backseat, was treated at a local hospital and later released.

The driver of the Grand Am, Joseph Jeffery Dickson, 26, remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition, according to police. Clinton police say Dickson is the stepfather of one of the children and father of the other.

The driver of the SUV, Amy Bair, 43, also remained hospitalized in critical condition Thursday, according to police.

Car Seat Tips
  • Read the manual for the car seat
  • Don't use the lower anchors on the car seat unless specified by the manufacturer
  • Put 10-15 pounds of pressure on the car seat you're strapping in it the car until there's 1 inch or less of movement

Investigators weren't sure if the Grand Am had just pulled out of another business and was trying to pull into the school parking lot or why it was traveling in the wrong lane of traffic. There were no skid marks on the road prior to impact, according to police. The elementary school had not let out for the day.

The investigation into what caused the crash continued Thursday.

Janet Brooks, child advocacy manager at Primary Children's Hospital, said that it's common to make a mistake when installing a car seat.

"There are plenty of ways to get the car seat tight, we just need to know how to do it," she said.

Contributing: Jed Boal

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