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Mom warns other parents after daughter suffered severe injuries from a seat belt

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Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A 6-year-old girl in Richmond, Virginia, is recovering after a Sept. 17 car accident left her stomach sliced open, and the seat belt meant to protect her is to blame.

CBS News reported that Samantha Swartwout was in the back seat of a car being driven by her father when the car went off the road and crashed into a tree.

A warning for parents about what led to the child’s injury

The impact of the crash led the seat belt to split open her abdomen. The shoulder of the belt was behind Samantha’s back, and the lap of the seat belt was across her stomach.

“The child is thrown forward with an absolutely enormous force,” Dr. Charles Bagwell, chair of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Today.com. “The seat belt almost acts like a knife.”

Bagwell cared for Samantha in the three weeks she was in the hospital.

“Her intestines were out on scene on the left side,” Samantha’s mother, Shelly Martin, said.

Samantha suffered a concussion, a deep cut in her stomach and needed stitches on her forehead — all things her mother said could have been prevented if she was in a booster seat, which Samantha’s father forgot, Today reported.

How it could have been prevented

“She would not have been this hurt in a booster,” Martin told CBS News. “Don’t think that just because your child is 7 or 8 years that they are too big… they aren’t!”

“It takes two seconds to put a booster seat in the car and to strap your child in,” Martin told Today.com. “It is going to save somebody.”

Martin tells the Cox Media Group National Content Desk that the overall response to sharing her daughter’s story has been positive.

“So many people are telling me that they have put their 7 or 8-year-olds back in the booster seat. Once people heard the whole story, they seemed to actually pay attention to the point of us sharing, which is with the hopes of saving another child.”

CBS News reported that Samantha was released from the hospital in October.

“She has so many limitations,” Martin told Today. “She’ll try to build a fort with her blankets, but she can’t because she can’t bend over. She will cry; ‘How can other kids do this?’ and, ‘When will I be normal?'”

Martin said her daughter is “seeing a psychology doctor for possible PTSD.” She said she is “in some pain, but in good spirits.”

“Mantha is going to have a 7th birthday party on November 13,” Martin said. “We are so lucky there will be one at all.”

GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Samantha’s medical costs. Over $2,000 has been raised toward its $10,000 goal.

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