Turning Tragedy Into a Cause
Kids and Cars Don't Mix
May 21, 2001 -- Harrison Struttman loved to watch boats cruise
along the Missouri River. The 2-year-old from St. Louis would take his eyes off
the water just long enough to watch a train roar by. But his favorite pastimes
led to his death after two toddlers playing in a nearby van shifted the vehicle
into gear, allowing it to plunge down a hill and into Harrison and his
"I heard a crash, and just remember seeing this van coming
at us," says Michele Struttman. "I screamed for my nieces to run, and I
ran to grab Harrison. My arms were stretched out when we were both hit
The van dragged Michele Struttman down to the riverbank,
pinning her between the car and the ground. Emergency workers told her she
might lose a leg.
"I just remember thinking, 'It will be OK; you will still
have your arms to give Harrison a hug,' " she says. But she never got the
Cars and Curious Kids a Dangerous Combination
In addition to crashes, children are at risk of abduction,
hypothermia, heat exhaustion, or choking on objects when left alone inside two
tons of steel machinery. It may seem too much trouble to unbuckle your child,
put on his coat, and carry him inside when you are picking up your dry cleaning
and can see the car from the door -- but one minute is all it takes for an
innocent time-saver to turn disastrous.
Horror stories have made nationwide news.
A 4-year-old Phoenix boy died last year after climbing into a
closed car and passing out. Temperatures in the car reached 150 degrees. The
child had been in the car about 30 minutes, but could not get out because three
door handles were missing.
A suburban Kansas City, Mo., boy died last year after his
mother dashed into a sandwich shop, leaving him in the car with the keys in the
ignition. She darted outside when she saw a thief jump into her car, but could
not untangle her son from his seatbelt. The 6-year-old was dragged for miles
before other motorists forced the driver, who had just been released from jail,