Police: Dead toddler's mom arrested after crash because car seat was wedged in console

Police in Louisiana said a woman showed "gross negligence" when her 1-year-old child died when an off-duty policeman crashed into her SUV last October, WBRZ reported.

Baton Rouge police arrested Brittany Stephens, 20, earlier this week on charges of negligent homicide and seat belt violation charges. Police said Stephens did not properly restrain her daughter in the child’s car seat, WBRZ reported.

Christopher Manuel, an off-duty Baton Rouge police officer, is accused of driving 94 mph in a 50 mph zone on Oct. 12 when he crashed into the Nissan SUV that was occupied by Stephens, her child and several other people. Seyaira Stephens was critically injured and died two weeks later, WAFB reported.

According to arrest records, the child’s car seat had been wedged between the driver’s seat and front passenger’s seat in the console area of the SUV, WBRZ reported. They alleged that the SUV, which was supposed to hold only five passengers, had as many as seven people in the vehicle, the television station reported.

Manuel was charged with negligent homicide in early February, WBRZ reported. He was released on $15,000 bond and remains on administrative leave as police continue to investigate, WBRZ reported.

Brittany Stephens was not the driver of the SUV, but allegedly told police she secured the car seat, WAFB reported. Police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely said Stephens was arrested because she "was the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat."

C. Denise Marcelle, a Louisiana state representative, told The Advocate that she "was in shock" when heard about Stephens' arrest.

“I’m a little concerned when we start (arresting) people, especially since she wasn’t driving, with such an offense,” Marcelle told the Baton Rouge newspaper. “It’s a bit far reaching to me.”

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