JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 1-year-old boy was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after he fell out of his mother's SUV and was hit by a pickup truck Monday afternoon in Arlington, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
The crash happened about 3:40 p.m. at Arlington and Lillian roads.
Police said a 25-year-old woman was driving a gray Chevrolet Tahoe with four children inside north on Arlington Road.
As she turned right onto Lillian Road, the left rear door opened, her 1-year-old son fell out and the boy was then run over by a white Chevrolet Silverado traveling behind the SUV, according to police.
The 1-year-old was taken to Wolfson Children's Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.
"I hope they survive," witness Christella Yowpp said. "I think it's important for people to have kids in car seats. It's as simple as that."
No other injuries were reported.
At the time of the crash, police said, the woman's 4-year-old daughter was in the front passenger seat, her 1-year-old son was in the left rear seat, her 1-year-old nephew was in the center rear seat and her 3-year-old nephew was in the right rear seat.
The mother told police that all the children were wearing seat belts, but investigators said that the children were not in car seats. Video showed there was a car seat in the SUV, but it was unsecured in the back cargo area.
Florida law states children under 4 years old should not ride in cars unless they are in a car seat.
“The law in Florida states that children through age 3, so until their 4th birthday, they need to be in a five-point harness. That’s a car seat that buckles over the chest and buckles between the legs and the car seat is actually installed in to the car," said Danielle Kessinger, a child safety passenger instructor with Safe Kids Northeast Florida.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the safest place for children 12 and under is properly secured in the back seat.
"The dangerous part there is that airbag deploys at up to 200 mph," Kessinger said. "There’s no way a 4 year-old is going to fit correctly or sit correctly, leaving that seat belt in the right place.”
The 21-year-old driver of the pickup remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, according to JSO. There’s no word yet on whether the mother will face charges.
"I've got four babies of my own and I couldn't image letting something happen like that," resident Shakiesha Bradley said. "I would not leave my parking lot until my kids are strapped down and in their seats."
The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.
For more information on car seat safety or how to schedule a free car seat check, visit Safe Kids Northeast Florida's website.