"I had to pick out a tiny coffin for my son with the money I had saved for his first birthday party,” wrote Michele Witte on her website, explaining the aftermath of her son’s 1997 death from suffocating in his drop-side crib.
“He was 10 months old when his neck became lodged between the side rail of his crib and the headboard,” Witte told MainStreet. “Apparently he was trying to pull himself up, one screw loosened and that creates a spring-loaded vise that takes approximately 15 seconds to suffocate [a child] to death … I thought it was an isolated incident until three years later when I learned that several other children died the same way.”
Witte’s son Tyler along with countless American children through the years slept - and still sleep - in drop-side cribs. But these and other types of common cribs that have been around for decades are now the subject of numerous recalls by the Consumer Product Safety Commission following numerous reports of children getting trapped and dying in them.
"Either the hardware is crappy or the instructions are so confusing" that cribs aren’t put together securely and pose a serious hazard to children, says Jeffrey Killino, a Philadelphia-based injury lawyer who has worked with families whose children have been hurt or killed by faulty cribs.
Children have suffocated between mattresses and cribs or they’ve been trapped in parts that have unexpectedly detached causing serious, sometimes fatal head and body injuries.
“The rails in between the posts come loose and kids put their heads or arms through the cribs and are injured or killed,” he explains, and in some cases "it could all have been prevented for 50 cents, or $1 or 25 cents … they could have never had a problem in the first place,” Killino says.