LAHAINA - Little more than a week after Lahaina patrol officer Stuart Farberow reinstalled a child car seat in a red 1995 Jeep Cherokee, he saw the results of his work.
Responding to a 1:40 p.m. crash May 25 on Honoapiilani Highway at Shaw Street, Farberow recognized the same vehicle.
The Jeep was on its side at the intersection. But, except for minor scratches from broken glass on his leg, the 5-year-old boy in the car seat was fine.
By repositioning the car seat from the side to the center rear position of the Jeep, Farberow was probably instrumental in preventing serious injury to the child, said Lahaina patrol Capt. Charles Hirata.
"We always recommend people put the seat in the middle because of side impacts, which is exactly what happened in this case," said Hirata, who is Maui County coordinator for child passenger safety. "There's a possibility of more injury had this child seat actually been on the side of impact of this vehicle."
Farberow is among about 40 Maui Police Department officers certified as child passenger safety technicians.
When he first encountered the Jeep driver, who was transporting her son, he noticed the car seat was installed improperly. In addition to being on one side of the vehicle, the seat was loose because the seat belt was placed in front of the child instead of being routed through the belt path of the car seat.
Farberow corrected the problems to ensure limited movement of the seat in case of a crash, Hirata said.
When the crash occurred, the Jeep was heading south and lost control, colliding with a white GMC pickup truck that was waiting to turn left onto Shaw Street, police said. The boy's mother suffered minor injuries.
Hirata said studies have shown that nine of every 10 child car seats are installed incorrectly. The seats should be installed so there is less than one inch of side-to-side movement at the belt path, Hirata said. He said harnesses should be snug so no webbing can be pinched.
Hirata recommended that people read the instruction manual for a car seat when installing it.
"You can get a citation for having a car seat installed incorrectly," Hirata said. "However, in most cases we choose to assist people with getting them correctly installed. Child safety is the most important thing."
A free child seat checkup will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 20 in the parking lot of Maui Marketplace near Borders Books Music Movies & Cafe in Kahului. The service is provided by the Maui Police Department, American Medical Response, Safe Community of Maui and the Keiki Injury Prevention Coalition.
Under state law, child car seats are required for children under age 4. A law that took effect Jan. 1 requires children from ages 4 to 7 to be restrained in either car seats or booster seats while riding in vehicles.
For a schedule of car seat checkup events, go to www.kipchawaii.org and click on the event calendar.
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.