Shocking Crash Photos Teach Lifesaving Car Seat Lesson

Jennifer O'Neill

One mother is sharing photos of the horrific car crash that she and her two young sons survived as a car seat call-to-action because, she said, “All the doctors keep telling me if Hunter and Kolton would have been any different than they were in their seats, we might not be here today.”

Kylee Barrett hit a patch of black ice while driving to 5-year-old Kolton’s school with 2-year-old Hunter in Tacoma, Wash., on Jan. 14. Losing control after avoiding a head-on collision with another car, she smashed into a tree that completely crushed Hunter’s side of their van and flipped the vehicle upside down.

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Photo: Facebook/Kylee Barrett

“We all had to be cut out of the truck,” the mother wrote on Facebook a few hours later from Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where 5-year-old Kolton (who was in his booster with a seat belt), below, was found to have a broken femur. As for his younger brother, Barrett wrote that “Hunter is OK … and I can say him being rear facing is the reason why! … Please everyone keep your kids rear facing as long as possible!”

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Photo: GoFundMe/Helping the Barrett family

“It’s so scary to think if one little thing would have been different I wouldn’t be sitting here holding him,” the mother replied to well-wishers later that evening on Facebook. She is “OK” post-crash, she added two days later, “really sore and bruised but my kids are here driving me crazy and I couldn’t be happier.”


The Barrett family. (Photo: Facebook/Kylee Barrett)

Knowing that her family was incredibly lucky, the mom has been sharing the shocking photos from their crash as a reminder to other parents to practice car-seat safety. “Hunter was in his rear facing Safety 1st car seat in the accident which saved his life without a doubt!” she declared on a GoFundMe page that she set up to help raise money to pay their medical bills not covered by insurance and, of course, new car seats for her sons. As of Tuesday, more than $900 had been raised.

Praising the seat that saved Barrett’s toddler, a friend of hers uploaded one of the crash photos of Hunter’s car seat, below, to Facebook, where it has gone viral with more than 13,000 shares since Jan. 15.


Photo: Facebook/Kylee Barrett

“This specific seat retails for $100,” wrote the friend, Heather Viers. “It’s NOT a ‘nice’ seat, but it further illustrates the point that you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your child safe. Get your car seats checked by a CPST [child passenger safety technician]. Use it properly every.single.time. The life of your child relies on it. #rearfaceallthebabies.”

Positioning a child face-forward too young is simply not a risk worth taking, Barrett insists. “It’s crazy to think that someone would want their child the other way because their legs are too long or ‘they don’t like being rear facing — they can’t see me,’” she told KIRO. “Get a mirror. Put a mirror there. They’ll see you just fine.”

Top photo: Facebook/Kylee Barrett

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