When Rocio Rocha awoke on a typical Friday in October of 2012, she had no idea that her life would change forever. That day began as any typical day would. After completing her early-morning chores, she headed to Foster Elementary for an AVANCE class. AVANCE is a nonprofit organization that supports Latino families with programs that focus on parent education, early child development, brain development, and literacy. Afterwards, the class participants had planned on traveling to another school in Dallas together for a reading workshop with all of the other AVANCE participants in the area.
Santa Monica, a long-time active member of AVANCE and a trained safety leader from the Injury Prevention Center’s Give Kids a Boost project, got into the backseat of Rocio’s Chevrolet Silverado with Michelle, Rocio’s 3-year old daughter. Michelle had outgrown her child safety seat and was now using a booster seat. Although Michelle climbed into the booster seat for the short trip, neither she nor the booster seat was buckled in with the seat belt.
“Oye,” Santa Monica said to her friend, “Michelle’s booster seat is not buckled in, and she isn’t using her seat belt. She isn’t protected and could be badly hurt if we get into a car wreck.”
Rocio knew that they were not driving very far. “What could happen in such a short distance?” she thought to herself. However, she decided to ask Santa Monica to fix the problem any way. Santa Monica moved the booster seat from the middle rear seat of the pick-up truck where there was no shoulder belt to the side rear seat and carefully fastened the lap and shoulder belt around Michelle, making sure it fit her exactly as it was intended to keep her safe in the event of a crash.
Less than 10 minutes later, they were driving down highway I-35 at high speeds in heavy traffic. Rocio was trying to keep up with another car that was headed to the same meeting because Rocio did not know the exact location of the school.
Suddenly, the car in front of her slammed to a halt because of a truck blocking the highway. Rocio, although normally a very careful driver, was traveling a little too close to the car in front of her. She abruptly slammed on the brakes, and everyone was jostled and shaken by the sudden stop. Thankfully, they avoided a crash, but everyone was extremely startled by the incident.
Rocio was very deeply affected by this event. “I thanked God for sending me an angel on that day,” she told our staff at the Injury Prevention Center. “If Santa Monica hadn’t properly placed the booster seat and buckled up my little girl, she most likely would have been seriously hurt or even killed.”
From that day forward, Rocio knew that no matter the distance, she must always properly buckle her child in the car. After this serious wake-up call, she vowed to never make the same mistake again. She also realized that not everyone gets a second chance. This incident motivated her to not only protect her child but also to become a trained safety leader for the Give Kids a Boost project just like her friend Santa Monica. Santa Monica had saved her little girl from serious injury, and Rocio wanted to be able to do the same for others.