By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve

BOSTON (CBS) – Here’s a warning for the millions of parents who believe their child is safely buckled into their car seat.

There is a little-known danger in the back seat that can claim the life of a child in seconds.

Nathaniel Stube knows just how quickly it can happen.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports

He was driving with his son Miles in his car seat when something went seriously wrong.

“All of a sudden he went quiet and said, ‘help daddy’. So I turned around and saw that the seat belt was around his neck,” he said.

Car seats used to be secured using the seat belt, but in recent years newer models come with straps that fasten to metal anchors that are tucked between the bottom of the seat and the backrest.

That leaves the seat belt hanging unused and easily within reach of a child.

“It did start to retract back into the car,” Miles’ mother said. “The more he struggled and the more he moved, the tighter it got.”

Nathaniel quickly pulled over and tried to free his son but he could not stop the seat belt from tightening around his son’s neck.

“I was just in a complete panic,” he said.

Unable to free him, Nathaniel called 911.

Firefighters quickly arrived to help.

“If it would have kept going without the father realizing what was going on, it would have been detrimental shortly thereafter,” said firefighter Calvin Renfroe.

Another firefighter cut the seat belt loose with a knife and Miles was rushed to a nearby hospital.

He suffered slash marks to his neck and broken blood vessels, but his airway was not injured.

According to Janette Fennell, the founder of an organization that deals with car safety issues called kidsandcars.org, 12 people have been killed by hanging seat belts.

“This is one of those very serious, but not very well known dangers to children,” she said.

Miles mom has written to automakers alerting them to the risk.

She also hopes the federal government will take notice and do something to prevent these types of accidents.

“Something needs to change,” she said.

If you have one of these car seats, simply buckle the unused seat belt behind the car seat before you install it.

That way it is out of reach of the child.

It is a simple fix that could save a life.

Comments (4)
  1. Cis says:

    your local police dept will install and show you how to install, use car seats properly – take advantage of it every yr as your child grows !!!

  2. laura says:

    Not all local police departments have certified car seat specialists. Please refer to this site to find a local certified specialist as it is very important to have a proper install and your child in the seat correctly. http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/ak/map/FindFitting.cfm?q_State=&q_Zip=33067

  3. Amanda says:

    I have an 8 month old son and have been a nanny for years. I never thought for a second about the dangers of the unbuckled seat belts being such a danger. Great story for everyone to learn from and thankfully that little boy is alright.

  4. rick t says:

    i have kept a small pocketknife within reach for years after hearing stories of jammed belts after accidents.

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