MANKATO — The mother of a toddler who fell from a moving vehicle Monday did not have a driver's license and had not properly secured the car seat, according to misdemeanor charges filed Thursday.
Maimuna Kunow Hassan, 40, of Mankato, was charged in Blue Earth County District Court with gross misdemeanor child endangerment, misdemeanor license permit violation and petty misdemeanor child passenger restrain system violation.
Hassan's 2-year-old daughter was strapped into her car seat when she fell onto the roadway on Minnesota Street outside of the downtown Mankato Hy-Vee Monday morning. Witnesses tended to the uninjured toddler and called 911 while Hassan did not immediately stop.
Hassan returned to the scene after police had arrived. She had parked her vehicle down the street and walked back with another child. Hassan was “crying and upset” and hugged her toddler, according to the charging document filed Thursday.
Through a translator, Hassan told police officers her daughter was secured in the backseat but must have unlocked herself before she fell out of the car.
An officer inspected Hassan's car and found there was no restraint system to secure the car seat to the backseat. The 2004 Honda Civic was compatible with a latching system required to secure car seats, the court complaint notes.
Paramedics examined the toddler and after finding no apparent signs of injury released the child to her mother, who indicated intent to self-transport her to the hospital for further examination.
Hassan does not have a driver's license, according to the charges. She has an instructional permit but there was not another adult in the vehicle as required at the time of the incident.
A trucker with a dash camera happened to be behind the car and caught the scary moment on video. Chad Mock posted the video on Facebook and it quickly went viral. His post had been viewed more than 1.2 million times by Thursday afternoon.
Media outlets across the country reported on the video, including the likes of The Washington Post and “Good Morning America.”
While a car seat mishap caught on video is novel, improper seat installation is not uncommon. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found six in 10 car seats are not installed correctly.
“There are about a million ways it can go wrong,” said Becca Peterson, a Mankato mom and certified car seat safety technician.
Peterson co-teaches monthly classes offered for free by the Mankato Clinic helping caregivers select the proper car seat and correctly install it.
Peterson said common installation errors include twisted straps, missing the top tether on forward-facing seats and turning seats from rear to front facing too early. The most common mistake, she said, is not making the tethers tight enough. The seat should not move more than an inch in any direction.
Blue Earth County and many other area county health departments also will do car seat inspections by appointment. The St. Peter Police Department also offers the service.
“It can be an overwhelming task but there are people out there willing and ready to help,” Peterson said.