Grief Motherhood

‘The Guilt is Tremendous’: Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning

Written by Leslie Means

A terrible accident nearly claimed the life of Tanya Bender’s sweet granddaughter, Aniyah. Tanya wants to spread this message to all parents, grandparents and caretakers, anyone who is responsible for the lives of our precious children. Read her words below. 

“Aniyah was a little over 2 years old when the accident happened. She was waiting happily for her mom to pick her up for the day. We put the car seat in the car, forward facing and strapped her in. They left the house and about 5 miles down the road, got in a car accident that resulted in the car hitting a brick pillar. The car flipped upside down.

Due to the force, Aniyah was internally decapitated at her C1 completely.

She had several breaks between C1 and C7 and also suffered a complete tear at her C5 of her nerve root that controls her arm. She was life-flighted after a long 12 hours at the local hospital that finally diagnosed her injuries. She underwent an 8 hour surgery to fuse her entire neck and put a halo on. We spent the next two weeks at the hospital. When we arrived back home, we had to teach her how to sit up again, walk again, and learn to use her hand and lower arm again.

It has been two years in May of this year and she is finally able—with constant occupational therapy—to use the lower part of her arm but will never be able to use it fully. Due to her full neck fusion she will never be able to jump on trampolines, ride horses, do cheerleading, sports that require her to be physical or even tumbling. It is too dangerous for re-injury to her neck. The fusion Aniyah had is very rare to survive from, according to her doctors. 

Parents need to keep their kiddos rear facing as long as possible. It is best to rear face until they are at least 40 pounds and if possible 50 pounds. In most cases, this is until 4 years of age depending on height and weight.
Today Aniyah continues to learn new ways to use her body to compensate for her left arm being partially paralyzed. She is amazing to watch. The little things to a normal child her age are huge mountains for her, like brushing her teeth or going up a ladder to slide down the slide. When she accomplishes these things they are so amazing to see and the smile on her face and excitement in her eyes just lights up the world for me.
I have a site called Keeping Littles Safe In Carseats, that discusses car seat safety and where mom and dads can ask questions and get help with installation issues. We have several amazing certified techs in the group that spend countless hours helping to spread the word.
I think of it each day. I have horrible regret for not listening to others who told me to rear face longer. They only left the house for 5 minutes before I got the bone chilling call from her father who was face timing with her while the accident occurred. Hearing him beg me to, “please find where they were in the accident so I could get to them.” If I had just taken the time to really listen to the people telling me to rear face, I could have saved her from all of this. I could be doing cheerleading with her now or riding horses. I didn’t take the time and now I will never have those little things to enjoy with my precious gift from God.
I think about the countless hours I had to roll her on her side just to give her a sponge bath, while her skin was rolling off her back and trying to keep the bed sores from forming. I think about it all the time. Or the times I had to sit in the doctor’s office while they tightened down her screws in her head. The guilt is tremendous. I can’t explain it. She tells me every night at bedtime she doesn’t want to close her eyes to sleep because she dreams about the accident. I could have taken all that away in a simple way of just rear facing her.”
Tanya, thank you for sharing your story with Her View From Home. We are certain this message will save lives. Our prayers go out to you. 
'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning 'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning 'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning 'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning 'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning'The Guilt is Tremendous': Grandmother Shares Terrifying Car Seat Warning

About the author

Leslie Means

Leslie is the co-founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well.

She is married to a very patient man. Together they have two pretty fantastic little girls ages 8 and 6 and one little dude born March 2017!

When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.