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Mariana Lopez

May 14, 2007

KENT, Wash. — The family of a young girl who was killed when a relative backed over her with a truck wants to turn their grief into action.

18-month-old Mariana Lopez was hit by a pickup truck that her aunt was backing out of a relative’s driveway on May 14. The young girl was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where she died of her injuries.

“”You can never bring a child back,”” said the girl’s mother, Alicia Lopez.

She just laid her daughter to rest four days ago and is still in mourning but, despite her enormous grief, Alicia and her family wanted to tell their story in the hopes that it would prevent similar tragedies.

“”They’re just so small, they run right out behind you and you can’t even see them,”” said Alicia, who was inside the house looking for her daughter at the time of the accident.

Alicia’s sister, Kenyada Munoz, was driving the Ford F-150.

“”I never saw her come out when I pulled up and when we put the two little kinds in the car,”” she said. “”I never saw her come out.””

These slow motion rollover accidents are happening at an alarming rate, killing about 100 kids each year and injuring several thousand more.

Alicia Lopez and her sisters all drive big vehicles. One sister has an SUV with built-in back-up sensors.

The sisters tell me they all plan to add back-up sensors or cameras to their cars. And they hope others will, too.

“”If vehicles had sensors now, it would be a big difference because it would have signaled that something was back there,”” Kenyada said.

“”Something was back there. Because even if you turn your hear back, she’s so small, you could never have saw.””
But the family knows technology alone won’t solve the problem.

“”Just make sure, double check, get off your car whatever, make sure there’s nobody behind you,”” said sister Lupita Sales. “”Make sure there’s not a little kid behind you.””

This may surprise you, but there is no federal standard for rear visibility. Last week, the “”Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007″” passed the Senate Commerce Committee and is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.

The bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to create rules that would expand the required field of vision behind a vehicle.

The bill does not say how this would be accomplished; that would be worked out in the rulemaking process. But it does list some possible options, including additional mirrors, sensors and cameras.

It would also require the Department of Transportation to establish a database of injuries and deaths caused by non-traffic, not-crash accidents. Currently, no federal agency tracks them.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents nine of the major car companies, supports the bill.
“”We think it advances safety,”” says spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist.

Many people don’t realize how big the rear blind spot can be. With a truck or SUV it can often be 30 feet or more.
According to test data from Consumer Reports, a Ford F-150, has a blind spot ranging from 34 to 45 feet, depending on the height of the driver.

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