LAFAYETTE, Ind (WLFI) - New findings report Tippecanoe County saw 6 child deaths during 2018. That's according to the Tippecanoe County Local Child Fatality Review Team.
The review team met this morning to discuss child death trends in Tippecanoe County and A-T-V safety. The review team looked at child deaths over the past five years.
Its findings show that 2018 saw fewer deaths in Tippecanoe County than the year before. 2018 saw the second-fewest child deaths in a year over the past five years. 2016 had the fewest with 4. 8 deaths were reported in both 2014 and 2017, and 13 in 2015. Of the 6 deaths last year, one was caused by "co-sleeping" or bed sharing. That was a decrease from 2017.
A-T-V safety also took center stage at the meeting.
Ashlee Bruggenschmidt partnered with the Indiana Conservation Office to create “Safety Sam” after her daughter Kate's death. She was riding ATVs between softball games with her teammates. "The four-wheeler flipped over and Kate died instantly from blunt force trauma to her head,” said Bruggenschmidt.
Now Bruggenschmidt uses Sam at schools and programs around the state to help educate the public on ATV safety. "He goes out and he's so engaging to the kids and interactive. And it really just brings ATV education to life,” she said.
With his helmet, gloves, goggles and boots, Sam shows what riders should wear to increase safety. Indiana Conservation Officer Matt Tholen also suggests riders should consider the size of an ATV. "It should fit that individual. A youth or somebody who is pretty small should not be on a full sized ATV that weighs 750 pounds,” said Tholen.
Safety Sam started in Indiana, but Bruggenschmidt hopes to take the idea further. "ATV crashes don't just happen in Indiana. They happen nationwide. I would love to see a Safety Sam or two or three in every state,” said Buggenschmidt.
Bruggenschmidt also helped push for a new state law requiring anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while operating or riding any off-road vehicle.