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Child’s choking death in car seat ruled accidental

The death of a toddler who choked himself in a car seat last fall has been ruled an accident by the Clark County coroner’s office.

Freddie Leffner was 13 months old when he was pronounced dead at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, according to the coroner’s office. His cause of death was ruled as asphyxia and entanglement in car seat straps.

Officers were called at 4 p.m. Sept. 24 after Freddie was brought to the hospital cold, pale and not breathing, according to a report from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police interviewed one of Freddie’s two mothers, who said the toddler liked to nap in his car seat, even while in their home, so he could swing his legs back and forth. The mother placed him in his car seat and left the room for about 30 minutes.

“(The mother watching him) stated to (Freddie’s other mother) that she believes Freddie was swinging his legs inside of his car seat and accidentally slid down in the cars seat causing the seat belt to put pressure on his neck,” police wrote in the report.

Loose straps dangerous

Jeanne Marsala, executive director of Safe Kids Clark County, said she’s seen few circumstances involving a car seat that have ended in death, but that parents often leave the car seat straps loose.

“Make sure that the harness is so snug that they cannot pinch any flack,” she said. “The chest clip needs to be at armpit level.”

Marsala warned a loose car seat can be dangerous for children in several ways, especially with toddlers who like to squirm and could “scooch down” on their seat, getting stuck under the chest clip.

The family had no history with Child Protective Services, according to a child fatality report from the county Department of Family Services.

Las Vegas police initially investigated the child’s death, but Metro officer Misael Parra confirmed Wednesday that the case was closed and that no arrests had been made in Freddie’s death.

Safe Kids hosts free car seat check-up events from 10 a.m.-noon on the second Saturday of each month at Summerlin Hospital and from 10 a.m.-noon on the third Saturday at The District at Green Valley Ranch.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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