Toddler dies after fall from car window; charges possible

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

MARICOPA, Ariz. - A toddler is dead after falling from a moving vehicle south of the Valley and police are trying to determine exactly how it happened.

Police say 3-year-old Quincey Tyrese Chapman-Gray died after somehow falling out of the rear passenger-side window of an SUV near Anthony Boulevard and Bowlin Road in Maricopa.

On Tuesday night family friends brought candles and stuffed toys to the scene and remembered Quincey as a bright and outgoing toddler.

"He was such a sweetheart, so bubbly," said a neighbor, who identified herself as Chris and said she used to baby-sit for Quincey and his siblings.

Police don't have all the details yet, but say a neighbor saw the incident and called 911 around 5:45 p.m. Monday.

The boy’s mother, Angelic Chapman, 36, was driving the vehicle and two other children, ages 4 and 5, were also in the car at the time of the accident.

Police are still trying to determine whether or not the children were wearing seat belts.

The vehicle reportedly was traveling about 25 mph down the road toward the family's home when the child fell out. The mother immediately turned around, stopping in the middle of the street where her son lay. The SUV blocked the road until emergency crews arrived on the scene.

The little boy suffered serious head injuries and was taken by ground ambulance to Maricopa Medical Center. He later died of his injuries.

Maricopa police are looking into the accident and will determine if any charges will be filed.

Maricopa police Chief Patrick Melvin called the situation and "unfortunate incident."

Melvin said Chapman's other three children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services.

A CPS spokesperson could not confirm that on Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators said this deadly accident could have been easily avoided had the toddler been properly restrained in a child safety seat.

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week. This child's death illustrates just how important it is to use seat belts and child safety seats.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, child safety seats reduce fatal injuries to infants younger than 1 year old by 71 percent. For toddlers 1 to 4 years old, child safety seat reduce the risk of fatal injury by 54 percent.

NHTSA estimates that the proper used of child safety restraints saved the lives of 244 kids 5 years old and younger in 2008.

Arizona law requires children 5 and younger to be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system. There is no height or weight requirement. Violations are subject to a civil penalty of $50. That fine can be waived if the cited driver proves that he or she has subsequently purchased and installed a child passenger restraint system.

While Arizona does not require that children older than 5 ride in booster seats, statistics show that they can save lives.

According to a lobbyist for State Farm, regular seat belts can cause severe abdominal injuries to young children because they are designed for adults and do not fit kids properly.

What's more, experts say children young than 13 should always ride in the back seat.

Several organizations, including AAA Arizona, have been working for years to implement stricter child-restraint laws in Arizona.

“By following current Arizona law, parents may unknowingly put their child’s safety in jeopardy,” said AAA  Arizona spokeswoman Linda Gorman when a measure to strengthen child passenger restraint laws was in the Legislature earlier this year.

National Child Passenger Safety Week culminates with National Seat Check Saturday on Sept. 24.