Kauai toddler killed in crash while sitting on driver's lap identified

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The toddler who was killed in a three-car crash on Kauai Sunday has been identified as 14-month-old Kaylie Pagelsdorf of Puhi.

Authorities say she was sitting on her father's lap at the time of the collision. Police arrested Michael Pagelsdorf, Jr., 28, on suspicion of manslaughter, and then released him pending further investigation.

Doctors in emergency rooms say they see far too often the tragic results of children not being properly restrained in vehicles.

Pop star Britney Spears was caught on camera driving with her son on her lap. The photo makes trauma specialists like Dr. Caesar Ursic cringe.

"The laws of physics aren't going to change," Ursic, the Queen's Medical Center's trauma services medical director, said. "A sudden stop in a car will launch a child through a windshield. As much as a parent would want to hold onto that baby, they physically can't."

Authorities say Michael Pagelsdorf, Jr. was driving a Nissan Pathfinder with his 14-month-old daughter, Kaylie, sitting on his lap. He rear-ended the vehicle in front of him when it came to a stop. Kaylie was killed in the crash.

"It's such a tragedy," Ursic said. "Being a father myself, I can't even imagine what the parents are going through."

Ursic says the Queen's Medical Center sees more than 150 children with serious crash injuries, such as massive head trauma, each year. As for the kids who are not properly bucked up...

"It's almost as if they really don't have a chance," Ursic said. "We generally don't get to see those children here at the hospital because, unfortunately, they don't make it. Most of them die at the scene."

Under state law, children under the age of four must be in a child safety seat. Kids four through seven should be in a booster seat.

"With a few precautions, the unnecessary loss of a child's life can be avoided," Ursic said.

For information on how to select a child safety seat and how to properly install it, call the Queen's Referral Line at 537-7117.

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