Local News

Couple hopes to save others from daughter's fate

Posted December 6, 2010 3:11 p.m. EST
Updated December 6, 2010 6:51 p.m. EST

— A couple still dealing with the loss of their daughter last month is trying to prevent other children from the same fate.

Eighteen-month old Chyler Nicole Huebner died after being hit by an SUV driven by her father in the driveway of their Lassiter Mill Road home on Nov. 12.

"Everything happened in a split second," the girl's mother, Nikki Huebner, said Monday. 

John Huebner was backing up his truck to a trailer at about 5 mph when he struck Chyler. He said he didn't realize Chyler had followed him outside until he hit her. 

"I wake up with nightmares just about every night replaying everything," he said. 

Chyler died a day after the accident.

The couple believes the child would still be alive if they had a rearview camera, like the one they have in their new Land Rover.

"Had we had cameras, I would have seen her staring right at me, but (I) just never saw her," John Huebner said. 

On Friday, the federal government proposed rules that would require rearview cameras to be installed in all cars and trucks by 2014. The Huebners said they are on a mission to make sure that happens. 

"The accident itself is just happening way too often," Nikkie Huebner said. 

Nearly 300 people are killed and 18,000 injured each year because of back-overs, according to data kept by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nearly half of the deaths involve children under age 5, and the crashes also affect the elderly.

Many of the deaths involve busy parents juggling careers and children and toddlers who get behind a parked car, not realizing the inherent dangers. In about 70 percent of the cases, a family member is responsible for the death, said Janette Fennell, president of Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based safety group.

The government estimated that video systems would add about $200 to the cost of each new vehicle. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the new requirements could save up to 112 lives every year and prevent more than 7,000 injuries annually.

"The biggest thing that we want out is that this can happen to anyone," Nikki Huebner said. 

On Thursday, WakeMed's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit's family room will be dedicated in Chyler's honor. 

The family room at the North Carolina Children's Hospital at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be dedicated in Chyler's honor on May 10.

The Huebners raised $100,000 to support the family rooms, which are operated by Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina.

The Huebners said they are planning a charity 5K run to help raise money to keep the family rooms operating. They said the rooms cost about $50,000 a year.