CHARLESTON – The attorney represented the family of a Fayette County infant who died in a drop-side crib commended a new federal ban on the cribs.
Harry F. Bell Jr. said he hoped no other family will have to live through the horror that Pack family experienced when their seven-month-old died in 2007 after he was asphyxiated in a drop-side crib after being put down for a nap.
Carter Michael Pack, who would have been four years old now, became trapped between the mattress and the drop-side rail of a Stork Craft Storkling Model No. 5394009 crib. Screws that were used to assemble the crib became loose, allowing the infant's head to become trapped between the rail and the mattress.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted unanimously to ban the manufacture, sale or resale of the cribs on Dec. 15.
All new cribs will be required to have fixed sides, rather than sides that can move up and down.
The ban also means child care facilities will be required to stop using the cribs and replace them with safer fixed-side models.
Stork Craft is based in Canada and is the leading manufacturer of cribs.
When Carter Michael Pack's parents bought the crib, they did not realize the hardware used to assemble the crib did not meet U.S. consumer safety law requirements.
"Had Stork Craft made safety its top priority, Carter might be alive today, "Bell said. "It's especially difficult around this time of year, when being with family is so important. Stork Craft's indifference has robbed the Packs of that joy."
Bell said he is glad to see the ban by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"This is exactly what you want from an agency that's purpose is to protect, especially when it deals with children," Bell said. "I applaud the agency for what they've done."
Bell said although it is hard for the parents of Carter Michael Pack to continue the fight against Stork Craft, they want others to be aware of the dangers of drop side cribs.
"The Pack family doesn't want to see this happen to other parents," Bell said. "They'll fight until the very end. The death of a child rips a hole in your heart that can never be filled. They don't want others to have to go through what they have gone through."
Bell said the Carter Michael Pack's tragedy was certainly preventable if Stork Craft had followed regulations.
"This company has been involved in a number of death cases," Bell said. "But Stork Craft won't admit to the problems with the cribs."
Carter Michael Pack's parents filed a suit against Stork Craft in Kanawha Circuit Court, alleging the company was negligent in its design of the crib and its carelessness led to their son's death. The case is currently pending before Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman. Trial is scheduled for Sept. 12, 2011.