"The easiest 50 bucks I ever spent."
That's what the Michigan police officer said after purchasing a booster seat for a 5-year-old girl who was riding without a car seat.
This instance of gift-giving began as an ordinary traffic stop. Last Friday, Emmett Township Department of Public Safety Officer Ben Hall stopped a vehicle in the southwest Michigan community after someone reported there was a young child riding without a car seat. Alexis DeLorenzo and her daughter were driving in the car of a friend who was at the wheel.
When they were stopped, Ms. DeLorenzo grew worried. She thought they were going to get a ticket. She told the officer she had recently fallen on hard times and could not afford a seat for her daughter. Her car had been repossessed with her daughter's booster seat still inside, Fox 17 News reports.
"We're living paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth, borrowing money from friends," she said.
Instead of writing the woman a ticket, Officer Hall told her to meet him at a Walmart in 15 minutes. There, he bought a booster seat for her daughter. The act "changed my life," DeLorenzo said. "I'm never going to forget him. And neither will my daughter."
In an interview, Hall explained how it felt natural to go beyond the call of duty and make a difference in these people's lives. His words also expressed humility – anybody in his same position would have done what he did, he said.
"A ticket doesn't solve the situation," Hall told Fox 17 News. "What solves it is the child being in the booster seat like she should be."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of car seats can reduce the risk for death to infants younger than 1 year old by 71 percent and can reduce the risk for death to children ages 1 to 4 by 54 percent in passenger vehicles. Vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 3 to 14 in the US, according to the National Safety Council. The use of a booster seat, as opposed to just using a seat belt, can reduce the risk for serious injury by 45 percent for children ages 4 to 8, according to the CDC.
The CDC advises parents to keep children in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until age 2. From ages 2 to 5, the CDC says children should be buckled in a forward-facing car seat in the back seat. Once children outgrow the forward-facing seat, the CDC says children should sit in a belt-positioning booster seat until they reach the appropriate height and weight limits for a regular seat belt alone.
Associated Press material was used in this report.