Ali and Derek Dodd from Oklahoma are the proud parents of the 5-year-old Presley. For 11 weeks, they have been one family member richer: baby Shepard is their toothless ray of sunshine. But as they dropped off their son one morning to daycare, they didn't realize that this would be the last time that they'd hold their baby alive in their arms.
The nanny leaves the infant unbuckled in a baby-seat unattended to sleep. 2 hours later, when she checks on the baby, Shepard was already blue and unconscious. She immediately calls 911. "I was in the middle of a class when my wife phoned and said I needed to come instantly - Shepard's not breathing," remembers father Derek. "I ran to the car and raced to the nanny's house. As I arrived they brought my son out on a stretcher. I drove in front of the ambulance and had to prepare myself for a life without my son. I was able to kiss him on the forehead as they wheeled him in. He was cold. So I knew it was coming."
Even though the doctors fought for his life, Shepard dies in the hospital. The cause of death: "positional asphyxia." Infants don't have the neck strength to lift their heads enough to breathe and therefore, in unfavorable positions, their weak airways can be blocked while the infants are suffocated by their own weight.
The grieving parents want to make other families aware of the dangers of incorrectly buckling a baby into a carseat or baby swing. "The most common reaction that we're getting is: 'I often leave my kids sleeping in the car-seat and they're fine' or 'parents do this all the time, so if it's actually dangerous...' or even 'what about long car rides, is this dangerous too?'" says Shepard's mother, Ali.
"But our campaign is not to scare parents into thinking that the babies will die during a car-ride or while sleeping," she explains further. "People simply need to be aware that the baby is sitting in the right position, like it says in the instructions and not leave them there unattended. It should just make them aware of the dangers, because so many of us don't realize."