Mother Warns Other Parents about Safety After Her Daughter Was Sliced in Half


Mother Warns Other Parents about Safety After Her Daughter Was Sliced in Half

A little girl was coming back home from a trip to the county fair with her father when they were in a car accident in Henrico, Virginia. Samantha Swartwout, six years old, suffered a severe injury after her dad crashed into a tree.


Shelly Martin, Samantha’s mother, received a phone call about the accident and was horrified at what she learned. Although her daughter’s father sustained only minor injuries that were not at all life threatening, Shelly found out that Samantha had suffered a head injury as well as lacerations to her stomach. The stomach injury was so severe that doctors had to use a binder around her middle to keep her internal organs in place. She was sliced in half.


Samantha was riding in the backseat of her father’s car at the time of the accident. The little girl’s abdominal injury occurred as a result of the seat belt slicing into her upon impact, opening up her stomach. Mom Shelly recalled that her daughter’s intestines were actually out of her body at the scene of the accident. She believes that the severe injuries probably would never have happened had the little girl been in a booster seat instead of the regular back seat.

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The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reports that all children should be in a booster seat until the age of eight or until they reach at least four feet, nine inches in height. State rules differ on this subject, but Shelly urges other parents to follow the recommendations made by Virginia for their children’s safety.

Martin stated that she didn’t think her daughter would have been hurt so badly if she had been in a booster seat and that parents shouldn’t believe that just because their kids are seven or eight years old they are too big for them.

Samantha was lucky to have survived the car accident. The doctors said that the far edge of the seat belt she was wearing had cut through her stomach due to the impact of the car hitting the tree. The physician who operated on the child stated that she was “cut in two” and that most of the damage could not be repaired. Medical experts call the injury Samantha sustained “seat belt syndrome.” A number of injuries can result from seat belt syndrome, including those that affect not only the abdomen but the head and spine.


Since her surgery, little Samantha is back home and continues to wear a binder around her midsection to hold her stomach together until she fully heals. Mom Shelly continues to speak out about the dangers of children not being in booster seats.

Experts agree with Shelly and state that the harness of a booster seat are far more secure than a regular seat belt and must be as snug as a hug around a child.

It is also important to know that there are certain ways people wear regular seatbelts incorrectly. In Samantha’s case, she was wearing the shoulder strap of hers behind her during the car ride that resulted in the accident. The move, according to an expert, increases a person’s risk of injury to their abdomen and lower spinal cord.


Shelly stated that although things happen so fast, the injuries her daughter suffered were completely avoidable.

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