After a seven-year struggle with infertility, Ryne and Rachel Jungling felt blessed when they welcomed twins in January 2018.
“They were miracle babies,” dad Ryne Jungling of North Dakota told TODAY Parents.
Anders and his sister, Linnea, were inseparable from day one. In nearly every photo on Rachel Jungling’s instagram account, the siblings are seen holding hands or reaching for one another.
Then suddenly, at the one-year mark, there are no new pictures.
On January 12, Anders died after a day care provider left him to nap in his car seat. He was still awake when he got dropped off.
“Rachel looked at Anders and said, ‘Bye buddy,’ and he kind of smiled back at her,” Ryne Jungling said. “He was awake, but sleepy. And she left.”
An investigation determined that Anders died of positional asphyxia, which means his airway was cut off when his chin fell to his chest.
When a car seat is attached to a base in a vehicle, it’s reclined at 45 degrees.
“That enables a baby to keep their head back and the airway open,” Lorrie Walker of Safe Kids Worldwide told TODAY Parents. “Their little neck muscles aren’t developed enough for them to sit up for long periods of time, so that angle is very important.”
But car seats were designed with handles for a reason. “If you take your baby into a restaurant, don’t just buckle the chest clip and think you’re good to go. The crotch strap is what keeps them from sliding forward,” Walker explained. “It’s also important to keep checking on them. A car seat is not a babysitter.”
The Junglings, who welcomed a son named Elias last week, miss Anders every single day.
“Linnea was just 11 months old when Anders died. One of our first questions was, ‘How long will she remember him?'” Ryne said. “Some brain research that we came across said that if you are a year old, you remember about six weeks. That was tough. That’s why we keep talking about him.”
A Journal of Pediatrics study from 2015 found 47 deaths in children aged 2 years and under over a four-year period as a result of car seats used outside of a vehicle.
“Anders’ death was 100 percent preventable,” Ryne said. “We want to make sure this never happens to anyone else.”