East Texas toddler's death could have been avoided say authorities

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas baby boy, Daniel Ramirez, 1, is dead after an afternoon accident.

Smith County emergency crews rushed to the scene around 2 p.m. Thursday, near the intersection of FM 2908 and FM 2767 in the Jackson Heights area.

Authorities say this tragedy could have been avoided.

Authorities say the child was riding with four other East Texans in a black ford SUV. Two minors were in the front and two adults in the back.

The 16-year-old driver swerved to avoid hitting another car which allegedly pulled out in front of him. The black SUV left the road, hit several trees and came to a stop on a barbed wire fence.

"[There was] extreme damage to the front of the vehicle," said Justin Stowe, a Jackson Heights volunteer fire fighter and one of the first on the scene.

The baby was not in a car seat, but sitting in his mother's lap in the backseat. When help arrived, Stowe says it was clear he had a lot of injuries.

"Had the child been restrained, could there have been a different outcome? Certainly," said DPS Trooper Jean Dark.

She says the baby's mother and another passenger were also not wearing seatbelts. They were taken to a nearby hospital. The baby's mother, Estelbina Depaz, 20, remains hospitalized. Her son was flown to a Dallas hospital and later pronounced dead.

"There could be charges, not only against the driver, but some of the other occupants, as well...dependant upon how the investigation goes," said Dark.

Authorities say, the accident also drives home another important lesson.

"Make sure that children are properly restrained," said Dark. "It's not just the law...it's the law because it saves lives."

DPS troopers say they are getting conflicting information about the second car that was allegedly involved. The accident is still under investigation, but we're the told the child's mother is listed in fair condition at ETMC.

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