CLAYTON — When Middletown residents Micheala and Donovan Rennaker chose an infant car seat prior to welcoming their first child, they never imagined it would be put to the test just four months after their son, Caspian, was born.
But on the evening of Feb. 20, 2022, the young family was involved in a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 75 near the interchange with Interstate 70. All three were treated at the hospital, and they survived the incident without serious injury.
The Rennakers were presented with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s “Saved by the Belt” award in a small ceremony on Saturday at the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) Dayton Patrol Post 57 in Clayton. According to OSHP Lt. Geoffrey Freeman, who presented the award, the recognition aims to highlight the importance of seatbelt use.
“Their lives were saved — and I’m confident in saying that — because they took the few seconds to put their seatbelts on,” Freeman said. “Obviously, with a little one, it takes longer than a few seconds to secure them in a car seat, but it saved their lives.”
Micheala Rennaker reflected on the crash and the couple’s decision-making process when tasked with purchasing their son’s first car seat.
“Being fresh, young parents when we were looking into car seats, we had no idea what we were looking for,” she said. “When I started doing my research on car seats, I knew I wanted the safest model on the market that fit our needs and, of course, was within our budget.”
The parents-to-be eventually settled on the Britax B6 series seat. Given that the seat kept baby Caspian safe, the Rennakers decided to repurchase the same infant seat following the crash.
Micheala Rennaker reiterated the importance of correct seatbelt use for babies and adults alike.
“We want to remind everyone to wear your seatbelts because it will save your life. Put your child or children in a car seat and secure them properly,” she said. “Defensive driving starts with that first click of the seatbelt.”
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