(WSVN) – What parents can’t see can injure, or even kill, children in their own driveways. 7’s Karen Hensel has an alarming demonstration every family needs to see in tonight’s special report: Driveway Danger.
A distraught mother in agony.
Three-year-old Mimi Carmilus had just been run over and killed in her Fort Lauderdale driveway by her babysitter, who was driving this pickup truck.
It was the summer of 2016.
Yiolette Carmilus, Mimi’s mother: “‘Hey mommy, hey mommy…’”
Now, nearly five years later, for the first time publicly, Mimi’s mother Yiolette agreed to talk about that devastating day to warn other parents.
Her sister is her support and translator.
Maria Myles, sister: “It’s the day that she tries to forget because it was the worst day of her life.”
Yiolette is a pastor and got a call at her church that something had happened.
Maria Myles: “When she got there, they told her the child didn’t make it.”
A South Florida mother’s heartbreak and a level of grief other parents across the country share.
Janette Fennell, KidsAndCars.org founder: “It’s impossible to avoid hitting something you can’t see.”
Janette Fennell is the founder of Kids and Cars, a national safety organization.
They are warning of what they call “frontover” accidents, when a child is hit by a slow-moving vehicle because of a front blind zone.
Most involve larger vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks.
Janette Fennell: “People don’t have a clue about frontovers because they really think they could see everything in front of their vehicle.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 104 children are killed every year and another three thousand injured. One of those deaths was Alexia Leaks.
Alexia and her mom had just been dropped off at their Southwest Miami-Dade home in 2015.
Investigators said her mom and aunt were talking, so they didn’t see Alexia come back out of the house.
The 2-year-old little girl was run over and killed by this SUV. Her aunt was behind the wheel.
Janette Fennell: “Little ones see a parent get into a vehicle, they think they’re leaving. They don’t want to be left behind. We actually call it the ‘bye-bye syndrome.’”
Claudia Hughes, mom “Kids are super fast.”
Ingrid Gotfried, mom: “Scary.”
These mothers agreed to test the front blind zones on a pickup truck and an SUV.
For the first mom behind the wheel, we lined up three children sitting in a row in the driveway.
Ingrid Gotfried: “I don’t see anything.”
Ingrid Gotfried: “I don’t see any children.”
Ingrid Gotfried: “Nothing.”
These five children would have to line up more than twice for a total of 11 before she could see the danger in front of the SUV.
Ingrid Gotfried: “Now I start seeing the top of her head.”
We then measured the blind zone.
Karen Hensel: “Almost 14 feet.”
And for this mom…
Claudia Hughes: “I see nothing.”
So, we added more children…
Claudia Hughes: “Nothing.”
She finally caught a glimpse of a child’s head.
Karen Hensel: “How many kids did it take?”
Claudia Hughes: “I lost count, which is a little scary.”
The total number was nine children before she finally saw this.
Claudia Hughes: “I will never take my eyes off of her anywhere near a car ever again, ever, even in my driveway, in any driveway.”
It took more than a decade of safety advocates fighting to bring change, and as of 2018, new cars are now required to have these backup cameras, but for many SUVs and trucks, these front-facing cameras are still not even an option.
Janette Fennell: “The worst thing that could ever happen is the death of a child. Try putting on top of that you’re the one who did it.”
Just as Kids and Cars successfully fought for rear-facing cameras, the group is pushing for mandatory 360 degree cameras and Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking on all cars.
Janette Fennell: “A little one doesn’t have a chance if they’re run over by a 2-ton truck. It’s devastating.”
As Mimi’s family prepares to mark the five-year anniversary of her death in August, her mom hopes people will remember her daughter and the driveway danger.
Maria Myles/: “It’s just a hard memory lane to go down. She’s just staying strong, not just for herself but for her other kids, as well.”