An eight-year-old boy was killed sitting in the front seat of his father’s car while not wearing a seatbelt when a crash caused the airbags to deploy and hit him in the abdomen.
The accident happened in Miaoli County late on Thursday when the boy’s father — 58-year-old Huang Jung-yuan (黃榮源) — had just pulled onto Freeway No. 1 from the Sanyi (三義) entrance. He was distracted by a conversation with his son Huang Jie (黃杰).
At the time of the crash, Huang Jie was propelled upward and crashed into the windshield, reportedly forcing a piece of fried chicken to block his esophagus.
The airbag then hit the boy in his abdomen, which caused massive internal bleeding, eventually leading to traumatic shock.
“When we arrived, the boy’s heart was no longer beating. His father told us that he was eating fried chicken, so we performed CPR to resuscitate him,” National Highway Police Bureau Tai-an squad chief Chen Shih-fang (陳士芳) said.
“The boy’s neck was swollen … We performed an emergency operation on him, but he passed away after a little more than an hour,” said doctor Tsai Guo-zhen (蔡國禎), who works at the Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital emergency room.
“[The boy’s] chest and abdomen suffered severe trauma and internal bleeding, causing him to go into traumatic shock, which was possibly the major cause of his death,” Tsai said.
Chinese-language newspapers said Huang Jie was the youngest of eight children.
Huang Jung-yuan said he had originally demanded that his son a seatbelt, but relented when the eight-year-old refused, reports said.
Because he had allowed a child under the age of 12 to sit in the front seat without restraint, Huang Jung-yuan faces charges of manslaughter.
When asked for comment, Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) Traffic Safety Committee Executive Secretary Hsieh Chao-yi (謝朝儀) said that preventative safety measures in cars and motorcycles could provide decisive protection for their operators and passengers.
In terms of safety belts, front seat passengers who do not wear seatbelts have death and injury rates seven times higher than those who do.
It is also important for backseat passengers to wear seatbelts, as their death rate is five times higher than that of the driver or front seat passengers who wear seatbelts, the MOTC Web site said.
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