Des Moines, Iowa - Still no update on the AE Dairy worker who died of traumatic asphyxiation last week.

Newton, Iowa - A stove burner accidentally switched on killed a baby in Newton, Iowa last August. That was the conclusion ATF investigators have concluded. One has to wonder why stove controls are designed to be accidentally switched to an on position so easily. The child was placed on top of the stove to keep it away from a dog that was apparently in the home. The investigators were pretty slick with how they recreated the scene allowing them to draw conclusions about the cause. The ATF agents and state fire marshal's office actually recreated the scene using the same make and model of the stove and the car seat determining the stove knobs could be turned on by a bump or with a gentle rocking of the car seat. The car seat and materials did also quickly ignite. The stove was a glass top model with what appears to be pressure sensitive controls. We have a similar type of stove in our home and I have to agree with how easily and unintentionally those controls activate.

"ATF technicians recreated the Newton kitchen in a Beltsville, Md., laboratory. Using the same makes and models of stove and car seat, ATF agents determined the knob could have been bumped on by either the placement of the car seat or gentle rocking of the seat, an ATF report released Thursday said.

The ATF also determined that because of the car seat's placement, it obscured indicator lights and the burner that would have given visual indication the burner was on.

Further tests showed the car seat easily caught fire when exposed to the burner."

From a forensic point of view it's all very interesting to say the least. From the parents point of view it has to be shocking and life changing. I'm going to guess here that the manufacturers of stoves with pressure sensitive controls will add a warning label. The manufacturer is now on notice of this "misuse" or unintended consequence. We can easily judge in hindsight but realistically people find that flat clean surface very convenient for putting something down just for a moment, then get distracted with something else and forget or fail to appreciate a dangerous condition.

Now imagine you're a father trying to take care of an infant during visitation where you are alone. Fathers who haven't been raised with raising a child may find it difficult. With an infant it's got to be more difficult. On the other hand I wonder if this has happened previously and if the manufacturer was placed on notice and failed to pass on the information? With houses changing hands it's also understandable that the warnings in the manual may not get to the new owners. On the other hand why not print a warning on the cook stove surface? This seems to make sense to me. It's easily done, permanent and right where the end user will see and read it. In this case it may have saved the life of a baby and years of turmoil for two young parents and their extended family. Product liability is a tough area. But losing an infant is tougher.


I wonder what make and model stove it was? That's probably something people should know.
Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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