January 5, 2013

A baby miracle: Maine infant survives violent collision, ejection

Six-month-old Gabriel Blaney was ejected from his car seat, soared 25 feet and landed in the snow.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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The 1999 Toyota Corolla being driven by Chynna Blaney was destroyed in a collision with a large pickup Thursday evening, and the impact ripped off the rear quarter of the car, dislodging the infant seat that Blaney's 6-month-old was using.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Photo

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The infant car seat in use at the time of a collision in Raymond on Thursday shows how it was still attached to the car's seat belt mechanism after the impact and after a 6-month-old child was thrown from the car and from the seat itself.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Photo

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Crash Location: Ledge Hill Road, Raymond

"Generally speaking, kids are much more resilient than adults," said Nathan Mick, director of pediatric emergency medicine at Maine Medical Center. "That being said, any time you have an injury with enough force to cause a skull fracture or fracture a bone, that's significant no matter what age you are."

Any skull fracture leads doctors to explore whether there is deeper injury to the brain, Mick said.

Chynna Blaney was released from the hospital Friday. Authorities plan to cite her for failing to stop at a stop sign and being a distracted driver.

Horler was taken to Mercy Hospital and released; her sons were uninjured.

Officials were stunned by the baby's good fortune and by Horler's ability to find him, right after a harrowing crash.

"She literally saved that baby," said Raymond Deputy Fire Chief Craig Messinger, who was off-duty and came upon the scene moments after the crash. "It would have been a lengthy amount of time for us to have found that child had she not heard him crying."

Messinger searched the back of the car for a baby, and wasn't optimistic about any chances of survival.

"I have seen car seats ejected from a motor vehicle with children in them. I have never seen a kid come flying out of one. That's a first for me in 28 years of doing this," said Messinger, who also is a full-time Portland firefighter.

Goulet is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to examine the crash to shed light on why the baby was thrown from the car.

"I'm looking for someone to come in and look, 'Is this a defect? Is this a recall? Was it just a freak of nature?'"

No recalls have been issued for that model of car seat, an Evenflo Symphony.

Goulet said the car seat was brand new, and the harness was intact and still buckled after the crash.

Authorities say they believe that Blaney had Gabriel in his car seat -- it's unlikely that he would have survived otherwise -- but there is no way to tell immediately how effectively he was secured.

Doctors may find scrapes on the boy from the harness straps that could shed light on the situation, Goulet said.

"It just might have been the right set of everything happening which caused the kid to squirt out of it," he said.

Horler said she believes there was more at work than physics and luck.

"I honestly think the hand of God carried this baby from the vehicle and laid it on the snow," she said. "There were many miracles performed last night and many angels surrounding us as we went through this horrible tragedy."

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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This image shows the Ford F-150 truck operated by operated by 35-year-old Angie Horler of New Gloucester. The truck collided with a car driven by 19-year-old Chynna Blaney of Raymond Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office

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Angie Horler, center, is pictured with her two sons, who were both with her when her truck collided with a Toyota Corolla in Raymond on Thursday night. Everyone involved in the violent crash survived.

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

The 1999 Toyota Corolla being driven by Chynna Blaney was destroyed in a collision with a large pickup Thursday evening, and the impact ripped off the rear quarter of the car, dislodging the infant seat that Blaney's 6-month-old was using.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office



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