Off-duty deputy "a hero", car seats looked at in Winter Haven crash

4:55 PM, Apr 23, 2013   |    comments
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Winter Haven, Florida -- A two-month old girl is clinging to life after an accident in Winter Haven this morning.

The wreck is bringing attention to child safety seats, and what can go wrong if they're not installed properly.

In an instant, a routine trip to school became anything but for 27-year-old Keri Radner.

At the corner of Boys Club Road and Havendale Boulevard, investigators say Radner, driving a Chevy Cobalt, turned into the path of a Ford Expedition.

The side impact was so crushing, that Radner's two children had to be airlifted to a trauma center in Orlando.

PHOTOS: 5 hospitalized in Winter Haven crash

One of them, a two-month-old infant named Imani Brown, was critically hurt.

"Another child, a three year-old, was seriously injured as well. The mother was critically injured," said Winer Haven police spokesperson Jamie Brown.

The three year-old, Mekhi Borwn, was still strapped in his safety-seat, but was ejected from the car into traffic.

"And believe it or not traffic is zipping by this baby," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Fortunately two off-duty Polk County deputies, Debra Martin and Benjamin Kirkpatrick, as well as an Auburndale police officer named John Kynn, and Cheryl Kelley, a nurse, all happened to be right there when crash happened. 

Deputy Martin left her own child in her car as she ran to help. Her daughter watched her mom's heroic actions.

Martin discovered Imani lifeless in the car. She was still strapped into a child seat but it too, apparently was not secured.

Deputy Martin says the infant had no heartbeat, but she administered CPR.

At first there was no response, but then, a breath.

"And a little whimper. And I think everybody around me just started cheering for joy because we knew we got her back," said Deputy Martin.

Investigators were still looking into details of the wreck, and what appear to be those improperly secured child seats.

Jennie Burton with the Polk County Sheriff's Office says not having the seats properly installed "can increase the injuries that they may potentially suffer from in a crash."

Burton helps organize monthly car seat safety classes which are free to the public.

It's vitally important, she says, because statistically nine out of 10 seats are improperly installed.

"Not all of them are complete safety hazards, but just one little thing could make the difference in a crash," said Burton.

By late aftenroon, Keri Radner was doing better, as was her three year-old son, Mekhi.

The infant girl, Imani, was still listed as critical.

The people in the SUV suffered only minor injuries and are expected to be all right.

For more information on those free car seat safety lessons, check They offer free training and even free seats in some cases.

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