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Baby's Death In Car Seat Leads to Arrest of Child Care Provider

Elizabeth Harding, an unlicensed Omaha, Nebraska child care provider, was told several times by Chris and Jennifer Hunter not to let their 1-year-old son Chase sleep in his car seat.
 
She decided to ignore that request and allowed the little boy to sleep in his car seat with it partially unbuckled.
 
That decision, prosecutors now allege, lead to the little boy's death by strangulation
 
Chase died at Children's Hospital & Medical Center after Harding found him unconscious in his car seat. Investigators say Chase squirmed in his seat while napping and the unbuckled harness became wrapped around his neck and strangled him. Harding, 33, was formally charged with child neglect resulting in death; a charge that carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. The mother of three, was arrested, following a month-long investigation into Chase's death.
Prosecutors say Harding was caring for eight children, including her own, at the time of Chase's death, . Five of the children were under the age of 3.
 
Under Nebraska rules, child-care providers must be licensed to care for four or more children. Harding, who cared for the children at her home, was not licensed, according to state records.
 
Unlicensed child care is common in Nebraska, where a shortage of providers has reached a crisis point in many parts of the state. Often these providers take on more children than they can safely care for. Harding's attorney,
 
Harding's attorney, Glenn Shapiro, described Harding and the Hunters as “very close friends.” He said Harding also cared for the Hunters' older son.

The Hunters “thought she was wonderful with that child and with Chase,” Shapiro said.
 
Shapiro calls the incident a “tragic accident".
 
Shapiro is right. This sad event is both a tragedy and an accident; one that never should have happened.
 
Chase Hunter's fate demonstrates why infants and toddlers should never be left in an unbuckled or partially unbuckled car seat. In fact, experts caution that children should not be in car seats for more than 90 minutes, even while travelling. Stops should be made and the child taken out of the car seat for a few minutes.
 
Children's car seats are designed for travel; they are not designed for sleeping. When a child is in a car seat their bodies are slouched down, and they may not be getting proper breaths. Add in an unfastened strap and you introduce a possible strangulation hazard.
 
Children should never be left unattended in a car seat, even while sleeping. Too many people think babies are safe while asleep, but in reality, the risk of an unattended baby can be fatal.
 
While the reported story makes no mention of where Harding was while the boy strangled, that will surely be brought up in court.
 
With a little training, a little knowledge, one life could have possibly been saved, and several others kept from ruin.
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