West Michigan mom praises local car seat safety program


After a head-on crash, Kayleen Landaal says her young girls were entirely unharmed. Now, Landaal is advocating for car seat safety programs.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, four out of five car seats are improperly installed.

One West Michigan mother is citing skills she learned at a local hospital for keeping her kids safe during a head-on crash this February.

Kayleen Landaal’s daughters walked away from that accident without a scratch on them. She credits the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program for keeping her children safe.

Landaal and her daughters, 3-year-old Maycie and 1-year-old Quinn, were driving in their Ford pickup truck on 48th Avenue near the north side of Holland when the unexpected happened.

“I don’t know if she just didn’t see him stopped or what, but instead of rear-ending them, she came into my lane and caused the head-on collision with me,” Landaal said.

Their truck was totaled, and while Landaal had from injuries to her chest because of the seat belt and impact from the airbag, her first thought was about the girls.

“I saw two guys running around the front of my truck. Well, they asked me if I could open my door. And I was like, no, I can’t get out but I need to get my girls,” Landaal said.

The girls were completely unharmed.

“Quinn was totally fine. She never made a peep, the paramedics checked her out, and she was fine. Maycie was crying, and she was a little shaken up, but she was fine.”

Landaal says Maycie and Quinn were both secure in their car seats.

“I was like, thank God, I knew how to properly install my car seats. Those girls didn’t move an inch.”

The classes are part of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program, which is taught by certified technicians like health and wellness coordinator Katelyn Jansheski.

“Every car seat manufacturer and every vehicle are so different. So every installation is going to be different,” Jansheski said.

The program walks child care providers through the steps of rear-facing and forward-facing car seat installation as well as safely harnessing your child.

“We have different stages of car seat use so that every stage is so different as the child grows as well. So that’s why we always recommend our families come to us at each stage of car seat use all the way through the booster stage,” Jansheski said.

That’s precisely what Landaal did just a few months before the accident.

“I’m a recurring customer. I’ve been there I think five times now between both girls and after the accident. And they’ve helped me every time with the seats,” Landaal said.

Part of the program is access to a discounted safety seat for $55, and a referral program with other agencies drops that price to $25.

 “What we do is making an impact in our community,” Jansheski said.

Landaal is proof that the program is something she highly recommends.

“I have friends that just had kids. I told my sister I said if you’re not going to take any classes, take the car seat class, take the car seat class. It is an even now I’m way more of an advocate for it after the accident.” Landaal said.

Educating yourself goes a long way, especially when it can help keep kids safe.

The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention Program offers free car seat inspection at multiple locations in Ottawa and Kent counties.

For the greater Grand Rapids area, call 616-391-7233. For the Lakeshore area, call 616-748-2285. To learn more, click here.

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