OKLAHOMA CITY – One year after their son’s death, an Oklahoma couple is working to make sure other parents don’t have to relive their nightmare.
“Babies aren’t supposed to die,” said Ali Dodd, whose 11-week old son died after he was put to sleep in a car seat.
Dodd’s son, Shepard, was being cared for at a home daycare in Edmond on April 6, 2015.
According to the police report, Shepard was put to sleep in an unbuckled car seat and placed on the floor in a room, unsupervised.
The daycare operator checked on Shepard two hours after he went to sleep, and he was reportedly blue.
Derek and Ali Dodd wouldn’t see their son alive again.
“I was able to kiss him on the forehead as they wheeled him in,” said Derek Dodd. “He was cold. So I knew it was coming.”
NewsChannel 4 uncovered internal documents from DHS, showing the daycare operator had been warned about unsafe sleeping conditions the week before Shepard Dodd died in her home.
According to the Fetal Infant Mortality Review board, in the past five years, 107 Oklahoma City-area babies have died because of unsafe sleeping conditions. Of those 107 deaths, more than five percent were put to sleep in a car seat, bouncer or infant rocker.
In the metro, one in five baby deaths can be attributed to unsafe sleeping conditions.
“It doesn’t discriminate against population, race, religion or socio-economic status,” said Kelli McNeal at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, who tracks infant mortality in the five-county metro area. “It affects every single baby.”
While providers have always had rules and regulations against placing infants in anything but a crib or a bassinet to sleep, the Dodds want the rules to be more clear.
“They didn’t really understand why, and they’ve never been required to know the why,” Doddd said. “The why would have saved my son’s life.”
On Wednesday, Senate Bill 1273, which is known as ‘Shepard’s Law’ passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The bill requires that child care centers and family child care homes not use soft or loose bedding, including blankets, in sleeping equipment or in sleeping areas that are used for infants.
Homes would also be prohibited from allowing toys or educational devices in sleeping areas for infants.