Sally Clark loves Fridays. Since her 5-year-old daughter Baylor has the last weekday off from preschool, Fridays are generally considered “Mommy and Baylor time.” Last Friday, however was a day that neither Baylor nor her mommy will soon forget. While Clark stood just outside the closed door of her minivan, 5-year-old Baylor nearly died, strangled in the car’s seat belts. Luckily, a mother’s instinct told Clark to interrupt the conversation she was having with a friend to check on her normally active daughter.
Clark replays the scene on her blog, “Sally Clark Photography,” detailing how she hurried Baylor out to the parking lot of a local elementary school, where she and her daughter had been visiting one of her other children for a Veteran’s Day commemoration. In the parking lot, Clark’s friend approached, and Baylor climbed into the family’s minivan.
“I left the sliding door open like I always do, but closed it when another car parked next to mine began to pull out,” recalls the stricken mother. “Despite three noisy leaf blowers blaring in the background, our conversation shifted to politics and we continued talking for about 10 minutes.”
Clark claims a mother’s intuition saved her child’s life. “You know that little voice in the back of your head?” She writes on her blog, “Mine stared quietly reminding me that Baylor would normally be climbing over the seats or running around the parking lot or climbing a tree or finding some other way to distract me from my conversation.”
When Clark decided to listen to that little voice and peak at Baylor, she saw her daughter frozen, standing on the back seat of the car, facing the back window. She wasn’t moving. Rushing to open the back door of the car, Clark’s daughter’s eyes met hers. “I could tell she had been screaming and crying and her face was bright red,” Clark remembers. Baylor’s feet were still barely touching the seat, but somehow she had gotten the seat belts tangled around her little neck. As Clark watched, her daughter began turning purple. The straps were completely cutting off her breathing.
No matter how hard Clark tried, she could not get the seat belts to loosen around her daughter’s neck. “I was watching my daughter strangle to death,” she notes. Her friend ran to the school to get scissors, while Clark failed at multiple attempts to loosen the straps. Finally, scissors in hand, Clark was able to cut the seat belts away from Baylor’s neck. “Her face started to turn purple so it was at a really bad point when we were finally able to cut the belt off her neck,” Clark toldCBS News.
The child was examined at a local hospital and shows no sign of permanent internal injuries. Clark says that it will take time to tell what emotional scars remain.
Clark wrote about her story, which was picked up by local news, to help encouraged other parents to carefully monitor their children at all times.
And to keep scissors or seat belt cutters in the car at all times.
Writing of the incident, Clark notes, “I was pleased to think that she was peacefully reading in the car and not opening and closing the door incessantly. As I stood about five feet from my car I felt confident that she was in a safe place.”
“I was so wrong,” she adds.