February 7, 2017 8:24 pm
Updated: February 8, 2017 2:19 am

Alberta mother issues warning after child easily loosens car seat straps: ‘It’s baffling’

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton mom wants to alert other parents to check their car seats after she said her daughter able to escape while she was driving. Sarah Kraus reports.

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An Edmonton mom is warning other parents to check their car seats after her three-year-old daughter was somehow able to escape while she was driving.

Angela Comeau bought three new Graco car seats for her kids after getting into a minor collision two months ago. She paid $450 each for them.

A month later, she says her daughter’s straps came loose without anyone pressing the release button.

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“My boyfriend put her in and he strapped her all in… I turned around because she was not buckled. She was buckled but it was really loose,” Comeau explained. “I’m like, ‘Why didn’t you tighten it?’ He was like, ‘I did tighten it!’ So I actually went back there and I pulled on it to tighten it and she sat forward and it loosened again.

“It just loosened without even touching the button. She sat forward and it just released.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” Comeau said. “I was furious… I kept trying to tighten it.”

She contacted Graco and was told they would replace the car seats, but Comeau didn’t trust the seats anymore.

“I was driving on the Anthony Henday – it’s not like I can pull over there – and she just released herself and she was out of the straps… I didn’t know what to do.”

Comeau said she asked Graco if they wanted her to send the car seats back to them for testing. She said, when the company said no, she contacted Transport Canada. She said an investigator arrived at her house the next day.

“He goes back to check Addison’s and he literally pulled on the straps and they came loose… It’s baffling.”

Comeau said the Transport Canada investigator told her to stop using two of the three car seats.

Comeau posted videos on Facebook on Feb. 3, showing how the straps loosen as soon as her child leans forward. A second video shows an empty car seat with the straps engaged and then easily loosened by an adult’s hand without using the release button.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the first video had been viewed more than 390,546 times and the second had been seen more than 71,906 times.

“Check your straps,” she wrote. “We have three of these car seats. On two of them, the release lever sticks and the straps loosen on their own. I have checked for any debris or liquids [spilled] and there is none. These are brand new seats. All three head rests rattle very loudly as well. My three-year-old daughter is also able to loosen the straps extremely easily.

“Transport Canada has come to investigate the issue and has advised not to use the seats.”

Transport Canada said this is the only complaint it has received about the Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat. It said investigators are examining the seats.

“A final report with their findings is expected in two to three weeks,” spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said in a statement to Global News.

There is not a recall of the car seat.

However, anyone who has experienced an issue with a car seat should file a complaint with Transport Canada online or by phone 1-800-333-0510.

The car seat in question is:
Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat – Cameron
Model Number: 1978149
Serial: 08261600207

In response to Global News’ inquiry, Graco issued this statement:

“The safety of our products and the consumers that use them is our top priority. Proper installation and use of our products in accordance with the owner’s manual is necessary to ensure they provide safety and security for children. Graco car seats are designed by placing the central adjuster, which releases the harness of the car seat, at an optimal distance from the crotch strap location such that a caregiver can easily access it and a child cannot. In fact, in the Graco 4Ever car seat, the distance between the central adjuster and the crotch strap location exceed all safety and regulatory standards. With a properly adjusted and tightened harness, the opportunity for the child to reach the central adjuster is low. In addition, we’ve safe-guarded the central adjuster with either a fabric or plastic covering to prevent a child from accessing.

“While our convertible and all-in-one car seats are deigned to accommodate a large age range of occupants, as the child grows (and develops their motor skills) it may be possible for them to reach the adjuster, buckle or other adjustment items on the car seat and learn how to operate them as a demonstration to mom and dad of their new skills. However, caregivers should always stress the importance of staying in the car seat to his/her child for safety.

“We understand this consumer is dissatisfied with her Graco 4Ever All-in-One Car Seat and have already reached out to her to discuss replacement and reimbursement options. At Graco we realize that kids come in all shapes and sizes and we create seats that we believe fit the vast majority of children, sometimes, however, the best seat may not be the one the caregiver has and we will work with them to find the right seat for their child. We sincerely apologize for this consumer’s dissatisfaction and look forward to working with Angela to find an acceptable and safe resolution. In addition, we would like to request the return of the car seats for further evaluation as sometimes food or debris can be lodged in internal components making it difficult to determine the problem without disassembling the seat for evaluation.”

Comeau has since bought three new car seats from a different manufacturer.

Graco has agreed to refund her and has asked that she send the seats back to them. Comeau is waiting for shipping labels.

With files from Sarah Kraus, Global News

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