By Susan Barnett
SEWELL, NJ (CBS) – It happens far too often: A child is killed or injured in a backover accident.
To stop these tragedies, the federal government is considering a rule requiring rear-view cameras in new cars, but that’s years off.
So a local mother, who lost her own son in a backover, is taking things into her own hands.
Moms always know the best tricks, as Holly Mason makes funny faces with her 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter.
Holly is a mother of three, and she vows to never forget her youngest son, Riley, who was born with a heart defect and endured multiple surgeries and doctors’ appointments in his short life.
“With his heart defect, every time I handed him to them, in the back of my head I thought, this might be it, so I would always make the day before really fun,” said Holly. “And the day before was really fun for him.”
But the day Riley died–when he was only 19 months old–he wasn’t having heart surgery.
He was with his mother, waving good bye to a family friend in their Sewell, New Jersey driveway.
But Riley ran behind the car, and it backed over him.
It happened so quickly.
At just 30 inches tall, Holly says Riley was in the driver’s blind spot.
By the time the ambulance got him to the hospital, Riley had died.
“It was horrible. I mean, losing your son is absolutely horrible, seeing him in pain, horrible,” Holly said tearfully.
According to KidsAndCars.org, a non-profit organization which tracks back-over accidents, on average two children die and about 50 are injured every week when someone accidentally backs over them.
To stop these tragedies, Holly is taking action.
As a student in the diesel program at Pennco Tech in Blackwood, New Jersey, she had the idea to install back-up cameras and sensors in students’ or staff members’ vehicles, free of charge.
Technology, Holly says, that would have saved her son’s life.
“If your car has reverse, you need a backup system,” she said.
“Holly came and said, ‘You know, in case you haven’t heard, this is my story,’ and when you heard the story, it was amazing,” said Pennco Tech School Director Gordon Ernst. “We wanted to help her, anything we could do as a school, we want to help her.”
Holly has already installed several systems, and she’s created a Facebook page called the Holly Mason Riley Project.
When asked what she would want Riley to know about what his mom is doing, Holly said, “Just trying to save more kids.”
Right now, people taking Holly up on her offer are just paying for the parts.
And Holly hopes to start expanding her installations beyond Pennco Tech soon.
You can have your own mechanic do it; a camera system can cost less than $100 and sensors are about $20.
If you’d like to learn more, click here.