Driveway Danger: What you can learn from one Maritime family’s close call
Amanda is a Nova Scotia mother who experienced a near tragedy a couple of years ago with her then 3 year old son Logan, when he was backed over by a car on the sidewalk in front of his neighbour’s driveway. While Logan fortunately recovered from his injuries, many children have not been so lucky. With the hope that others might learn from her family’s close call, Amanda reached out to Child Safety Link and asked us to share her story. Here is our conversation with her.
Can you tell us a bit about your family life?
Amanda: My husband and I have two children: Halle is 6 and Logan is 4. Halle is my busy extrovert. Logan is shy and quiet – which is something that contributed to what happened that day. This happened in 2019 so they were 3 and 5 years old at the time. We live in a safe neighbourhood filled with families and children. I run a family home daycare from my home.
What can you tell us about the day of your son’s close call?
Amanda: It was an ordinary, run of the mill day. Logan was suffering a little from allergies and was a little “off” and so that day he decided he was wearing his pajamas all day with clothes on over top.
The last kids had just left my home daycare, and so I decided to take my children outside for a little walk to the community mailbox before I started preparing supper.
Can you describe to us what happened?
Amanda: Logan was in a snit about something – in that state he doesn’t tantrum loudly, he just flops down on the ground.
We were almost home, and then just before our driveway he laid down on the sidewalk in protest. I was standing in our driveway, a couple of feet away from him, waiting for him to finish having his moment and walk the few last steps to our house.
I started to play with my daughter, tickled her and playfully bopped her with the mail to get his attention. I looked away from him for a second and that’s when I heard the scream. When I looked back, he was under my neighbour’s car.
I dropped the mail, and took the two steps it took to get to him. In that brief moment, the time it took to get to him, the car rolled off of him and he got up and was in my arms.
He was screaming hysterically. Because he was wrapped in so many layers of clothes, I couldn’t even tell what injuries he had. Together we quickly assessed that he was not just bumped, his body had been underneath the tires.
The neighbour asked if we should call 911 and so I did. The operator stayed on the line with us. Logan started to calm down, but as he got quiet – I started to get more worried. When he was calmer, I remember laying him down to try and get some of the layers off him to see if I could find anything broken.
My poor daughter – she is so good under pressure – she stood back and waited and watched. I think she was in shock at the time. A family friend came to visit at that moment and took care of my daughter when I went in the ambulance with my son.
During the ambulance ride my son was in shock and quiet. He was clinging to me and the teddy bear they give children in ambulances. There was rush hour traffic, and the ride seemed to take forever.
What happened when he got to the hospital?
Amanda: We went right into the IWK’s Emergency Department. As the medical team removed the layers of clothes off him, we were all shocked that there were no broken bones or internal organ damage.
They definitely expected to find greater injuries. The car had driven up over his leg, and pinned his belly and genitals to the ground. The tires pinched his belly and crushed his skin.
We thank our lucky stars that he had only bruises and abrasions…it could have been so, so much worse! He still does have a purple mark on the side of his belly where it was crushed under the wheel. It looks like this might be a permanent bruise.
What thoughts do you have about the incident, looking back on it a year later?
Amanda: There were such a convergence of events that caused this to happen. The neighbours didn’t normally have a garage door opener – they had only gotten one that week. If this had happened a week earlier, she would have had to come out of her door to open the garage and would have seen him.
If she had pulled out any faster or if she hadn’t been aware that she felt something under the tires, our story would have had a much different ending. Our neighbour was also very traumatized by this incident, and came to the house to check in with us every day for some time afterward.
Has your family’s close call changed the way you think about injury prevention or safety?
Amanda: The incident has had a huge impact on our family. The kids talk about it all the time. Every now and then my son will say: “I got runned over by a car” and people think that he is telling tall tales. Sometimes, he shows a lot of anxiety just being out for a walk on our street.
My daughter has always been more aware of safety than other children, but she is much more protective of her brother now. She will screech at him in parking lots if she thinks he is not paying attention.
More than anything–we know how lucky we are. We hope that no other family has to experience something like this.
What is your message to parents, families and caregivers?
Amanda: I know it sounds cliché, but we want people to know that it only takes a second for the unexpected to happen.
You know, we spend so much time and energy teaching our kids about safety–whether it be around water, roads, power tools, poisonous things, etc. This scenario was one thing that was just not on my radar. I guess we had this false sense of security because we were on the sidewalk in front of our house, a place we had safely navigated hundreds of times.
Thankfully, my family was lucky and able to learn from our close call. We know that we need to always be aware of our surroundings – especially when it comes to cars and kids, because both are fast and unpredictable.
So what can be done to prevent driveway front-over or back-over incidents like this?
There are a few things you can do to keep your family and neighbourhood children safe:
- Always walk completely around your vehicle before you get in the car to drive to ensure no kids are in the way.
- Don’t rely on vehicle backup cameras, which can help to see what’s behind you, but they have limits to what they can show you
- Avoid distractions as you leave your driveway: do not look at your phone or touch the car radio. Roll down your windows and listen before putting the car in drive or reverse.
- Be aware of your surroundings the whole time as you enter the roadway. Be on the lookout for kids on bikes and scooters—they can come up quickly and may not be looking for moving cars.
- Remind your children that it’s never safe to play under or behind cars, and to be careful even on the sidewalk when they are crossing driveways where cars could be exiting on to the street.
Please share this information on to your friends and family! For more information on children’s injury prevention for all ages and stages, visit the CSL website at www.childsafetylink.ca . Thanks so much to Amanda and her family for sharing their story in order to help other Maritime families!