Saved by her car seat; family of toddler urges holiday weekend safety

 Abby Rowe today
Abby Rowe today (KTUU)
Published: May. 24, 2017 at 3:10 PM AKDT
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The family of a little girl, who survived a horrific car crash, is urging families to make sure they are properly using car safety seats, and they are asking people, who get behind the wheel this Memorial Day weekend, to not drink and drive.

Abby Rowe was 19-months old when she was ejected from her grandmother's car, while buckled into her child safety seat, during a collision on the Glenn Highway, near Bragaw Street, in January, 2016.

The child's grandmother, Candy Turner, said they were celebrating her [Turner's] birthday, and they had just left brunch at a local restaurant. Turner was in the passenger seat, her daughter, Tiffany Rowe, was driving, and Abby was in her child seat in the backseat of the sedan.

"I had looked back at her [Abby Rowe], and when I turned back forward, I just saw peripherally a truck coming toward us," said Turner. "I thought, 'He's gonna hit us.' And no sooner than the thought enter my mind, he did," said Turner.

At the time of the incident, police said that a pick up truck had crossed the center median and collided with two cars, including Turner's sedan.

"It was just noise, loud metal," Turner said. "Everything went really dark, and then we came to. I checked to make sure all of my parts were still there. I checked my daughter [Tiffany Rowe], and I looked in the backseat, and I said, 'Oh my God, Abby's gone.' And of course, panic set in for both of us."

The impact tore open the side of the family's car. The two women spotted Abby's car seat face-down, on the other side of the road, with Abby still buckled in.

Turner said, "She [Tiffany Rowe] ran across and flipped Abby over, and Abby was unconscious. She was gray, it looked like she was gone. My daughter said, 'Abby's gone mom.' And I said, 'No she's not.' And I just proceeded to do a whole lot of praying."

Abby was rushed to the hospital. She suffered a broken arm, which was fractured in two places, abrasions and bruises, but she made a full recovery. Her family is about to celebrate her third birthday.

Sara Penisten Turcic, state coordinator for Safe Kids Alaska, says the family's proper use of a child safety seat was key to Abby Rowe's survival; however, she cautions that many parents are unknowingly putting their children at risk.

"The statistics that we see here in Alaska are that the car seats that we do check, more than 85 percent are being misused in one or more ways," said Turcic. "And that's a huge statistic."

Abby Rowe's family is urging parents to make sure they are using child safety seats properly.

"What we really wanted to convey to the community is to slow down a little bit," Turner said. "We get in a rush, we throw our kids in, clip them in and go. We really need to take the time to make sure that the car seat is properly installed, and that the child is properly fastened into the car seat."

Court records say that the driver who caused the collision, Paul Martin Duke, Jr., plead guilty to assault and D.U.I.

Turner is asking people who get behind the wheel, during the upcoming holiday weekend, to not drink and drive.

"Use good judgment," Turner said. "If you are having barbecues and you're drinking, call a friend, call a co-worker, call a family member [to drive you home], because there are a lot of families out there."

For more information on proper child safety seat use go to