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The kids are all right

Wreck is reminder of safety seats

POSTED: January 28, 2009 4:00 a.m.
Photo/Michele Hester/

Stephen Swofford, a Dawson County school resource officer, tightens 4-year-old Ian Bliss in a new child safety seat after his family was involved in a wreck last week. The Dawson County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with SafeKids of Dawson County, installs dozens of car seats each year to local families through highway safety grants and donations.

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Infant and child safety seats aren’t cheap.


“They’re at least $140 a piece,” said Rebecca Bliss, a mother of four children under age 5 who recently had to replace her seats after a Jan. 21 wreck.


Bliss and her children were traveling in her 2007 Dodge Caravan when it was struck about 3 p.m. by a 1998 Honda CRV at Dawson Forest Road and Hwy. 9.


The driver of the CRV, 71-year-old Arlyneer R. Eastes of Big Canoe, was cited for failure to yield.


Authorities credited the child safety seats for keeping the children from harm.


Georgia requires that all children under age 6 be properly restrained in a federally approved child restraint appropriate for their height and weight.


Bliss said Monday that she caught two lucky breaks: no injuries and free replacement child safety seats.


“To have a head-on collision with four babies in the car and no one hurt more than one of them biting her tongue was a miracle,” she said.


Bliss said she was overcome with emotion when Dawson County Sheriff’s deputies brought two replacement car seats to the wreck scene.


“We would have had to buy them out of pocket and get reimbursed by the insurance company,” she said.


Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Tony Wooten credited Stephen Swofford and Josh Rogers for their quick action.


The school resource officers were directing traffic at nearby Riverview Middle School when the wreck occurred.


“[They] arrived on the scene and changed out two of the car seats Stephen had in the trunk of his car immediately and installed the two other seats the next day,” Wooten said.


Every year the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with SafeKids of Dawson County, buys and installs dozens of child safety seats that Wooten said are made possible by grants and local donations.


He won’t get any complaints from Bliss.


“We’re real happy with them,” she said as she strapped her children into the rental van. “Anything they ask, we’ll be there for them.”


Her oldest child, Ian Bliss, who will turn 5 in April, was pleased.


“I got a new car seat,” he said after the collision. “The wreck was scary.”


E-mail Michele Hester at


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