Blind zone dangers: A family's tragedy

Blind zone dangers: A family's tragedy

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Protecting their child is a top priority for most parents, which is why what happened to an Aynor family is that much harder to comprehend.

Mary Parker and her husband, Charles, lost her 13-month old, Kyliee, in a back-over accident in their own front yard on Oct. 16, 2014.

"For that one day, I thought she was safe, I thought she was fine, and I feel guilty because I let my guard down." Parker said.

On the day of the accident, Parker had run inside the home for just a few seconds as Kyliee was playing outside.  Her grandfather did not see her as he put his truck in reverse.

"In the midst of it, I'm seeing my son pick his sister up, and he's screaming, 'Papa run her over. Papa run her over,'" Parker said.

No charges were brought against Kyliee's grandfather, as authorities determined it was a tragic accident.

Sadly, it is one that happens more often than one might think.  The latest data from the safety group shows that, in the past 15 years, at least four children have died in back-over accidents in Horry County.

Nationally, the numbers are staggering.

On average, they happen more than 13,000 times a year and claim more than 200 young lives.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 31 percent of those accidents happen to children under 5, and in about 70 percent of the cases, a loved one is behind the wheel.

The problem is blind zones, that roughly 15 to 25 feet directly behind a vehicle drivers cannot see with their mirrors.

"Some blind zones are as much as 50 feet," said Janette Fennell, of, "I mean, that's longer than most driveways."

For the past decade, Fennell and her organization have been fighting for the federal government to require automakers to have a rear visibility standard.

They finally won the battle.

According to the NHTSA, this year at least 10 percent of the fleet will have to come up with rearview cameras or some other technology that will help drivers see when they back up.  In 2017, 40 percent will have to comply.  By 2018, 100 percent of new vehicles will have to follow this standard.

Still, Fennell said nobody has to wait.

"You can get cameras for $100 and retrofit your vehicle so nobody has to continue to back up blindly," she said.

Other safety precautions include: always walking around and behind a vehicle prior to moving it; making sure children hold hands in a parking lot at all times; teaching children never to play in, around, or behind a vehicle; keeping toys out of the driveway; and installing extra locks inside the home so small kids cannot get out on their own.

For Mary Parker and her family, every day is still difficult.

"The only thing I can think of is that God wanted another angel, and he picked Kyliee," she said.

To make matters more difficult, Kyliee's gravesite has been vandalized a number of times.

The family is working to get "Kyliee's law" passed, with the hope being to make stealing from a gravesite or cemetery a felony instead of a misdemeanor in South Carolina.

For more information on how to help, click here.

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