Gilbert mom says car seats saved daughters' lives after rollover accident

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CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The morning of Aug. 8 was like any other for the Williams girls. Their mom, Candace, was behind the wheel of the family's vehicle, driving in Mesa when the day violently turned into a brush with death.

"I have a seizure disorder and it seems, nobody really knows, that I had a seizure while I was driving," she said.

The car hit the curb, flipped upside down and crashed into a cement wall in mere seconds.
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"The only thing I can remember is when the paramedics came, the first thing I asked is 'Are my girls OK?' They said 'Yeah, they're fine' and I just kind of blacked out again," Williams said.

It took emergency crews 30 minutes to extricate Williams from the car, but her pain could not match her worry for her daughters.

Both girls were strapped in child safety seats that were secured in the back seat of the car.

"Camilla, she was 4 months old, she was fine. She was smiling up at the paramedics. She didn't even have a scratch on her," Williams said. "Chloe, who's almost 2, she had a buckle fracture which means just a barely broken leg."

Williams had her seat belt on when they crashed. She broke both ankles, one rib and a bone in her face. She also strained her shoulder. More than a month later, she's working on moving more. It's far from where first responders first found her. As for her daughters? Officers know what kept them alive.

"Certainly with the amount of damage we saw, and the destructive force in that accident, we can certainly say those car seats saved those children's lives," said Capt. Forrest Smith with the Mesa Fire Department. Mesa crews were some of the first on the scene.

Williams says those seats were never an option, no matter how much her girls resisted.

"I just never wanted it to be my babies that other people learned from. I just never wanted to take that chance," she said.

There is one lesson Williams wants you to learn from her experience, which could have turned tragic. That lesson? Car seats can save lives. Her two little daughters are living proof.

There will be a fundraiser for Williams and her family on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at the McDonald's at Val Vista Dive and Pecos Road in Gilbert.

This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week.

“Every year, the No. 1 cause of fatalities for all children is car crashes,” said Debbie Hersman, head of the National Transportation Safety Board. “These are accidents that occur on the roadways and the injuries – the fatalities – are preventable. “If you restrain your children properly in a size-appropriate restraint, you can protect them,” she continued.

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