North Texas

North Texas Mother Recounts Fatal Crash & Importance of Child Car Seats

A North Texas mother is sharing an emotional message with other families:

Car seats save lives.

The grateful mom reunited with the Cedar Hill fire official who taught her the proper way to secure her two small children.

Beatrice "Kali" Payne said sharing her story of loss is indeed painful, but necessary.

"If my testimony can help someone else be aware so that their kid can be OK, I'm fine by that," she said.

Payne, her fiancé and two children were visiting family in Mississippi last fall when it happened.

"We seen the car coming so fast and at that moment everybody started screaming," Payne said.

A horrific two-car crash claimed the life of her fiancé, Anthony.

Payne was injured as well.

"I think I was more broken when I actually turned around and seen my babies bodies there, just helpless," she said.

Her newborn baby boy Ka'Lil and 6-year-old daughter Kea'Tonii were both strapped in their car seats -- badly hurt, but alive.

Nine months have passed since the deadly crash.

Mom and kids are on the mend and especially grateful.

"I was able to obtain knowledge and use it in my life and ultimately it saved my daughter's life," Payne said.

Shortly before the crash, Payne happened to seek training on proper car seat installation by Cedar Hill's Fire Inspector, Tammie Cooper.

Cooper helped Payne install the baby's rear-facing seat and educated Payne about her daughter needing a booster seat.

"I've ran this program for seven or eight years now and to have [Payne] come back and tell me her story, it sent chills up my spine," Cooper said. "To see those babies and hold those babies and hug those babies and just knowing that they're here because of the help I gave her, it meant everything to me."

Cooper is among only a few certified car seat technicians in the area.

The service is provided upon request by calling the Cedar Hill Fire Station.

Cooper said in her experience, about 99% of the time those installing car seats make mistakes.

"Every car seat doesn't fit every car perfectly, and so it's a lot of factors that go into the proper fitting," Cooper said.

"I'll forever be thankful for her because my children are here," Payne said.

This mother said she hoped all families seek proper training in order to secure the most precious of cargo out on the roads.

"I have to learn to deal with the disabilities that my kids have, but I'm thankful that it's only disabilities and that I'm still able to hug them day by day," Payne said.

Child Passenger Safety Week is in September.

Cooper said Cedar Hill, as well as other fire departments around North Texas, would host safety trainings.

Click here to find a certified car seat technician in your area.

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