Car seat saves child's life

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Lt. Jennifer Ephlin and Capt. Jeff Creecy with Presley Easton Dehart.

The decision of one grandmother saved the life of a little boy. Unfortunately, just a few weeks later, another decision to drink and drive cost that grandmother her life and the life of her husband.

In May 2007, Barbara Dehart of Manila contacted Capt. Jeff Creecy with the Osceola Police Department asking for a child safety seat for her one-year-old grandson, Presley Easton Dehart.

Responding, Detective Jennifer Ephlin met with the grandmother and installed her new car seat.

Easton Dehart was made an honory policeman by Terry Whitley with the Arkansas State Police. Whitley, who is preparing to retire, has dedicated her career to helping keep children safe. Also pictured is Easton's dad, Brandon Dehart.

A few weeks later, June 15, Barbara, her husband, Charles, and Easton were traveling to the lake when a drunk driver (near Ravenden) hit them head on. Both grandparents were killed, but young Easton was protected by his new car seat and only received a few bruises.

Easton, along with his dad, Brandon Dehart of Manila; step-mom, Summer; and cousin, Michelle Stillwell of Osceola, wanted to thank the police officers who saved his life.

Now five years old, Easton attended the annual child safety seat clinic held in Osceola Saturday. And, he brought with him, a couple of plaques.

The first plaque, with his smiling face, he presented to the Osceola Police Department. And, the second, he gave to Terry Whitley with the Arkansas State Police, who co-sponsors the car seat clinics.

With a big smile, Easton had only two words to say, "Thank you." There were tears all around as his father uttered those same words.

Dehart said the car seat definitely saved the life of his son. "I want people to know, they do work and I just want to say thanks to the police officers." The plaque read "for the hard work, dedication, and commitment to the success of the car seat safety program." Lt. Ephlin said the grandmother deserves the credit. "This story is very bittersweet," she said. "The grandmother cared enough to call the police department. His life was saved. Yet, this little boy lost his grandparents."

Ephlin went on to explain the proper installation of car seats is not as simple as it sounds. Ephlin and Creecy attended a training class on the subject.

"If anyone has questions, they may call us. Any police department will help you." Decisions about the proper child safety seat are not cut and dry. Ephlin said the rules depend upon the maturity, height and weight of the child.

Whitley, who is getting ready to retire, has spent her life dedicated to keeping children safe. Saturday, she made young Easton an honorary police officer. He was presented a police hat, state trooper bracelet, toy trooper car, and a state police bear.

The Junior Auxillary of Osceola also presented him with a basket of his favorite wrestling toys.

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