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Gas can in car seat? Sell the car!

Gas can in car seat

Gas can in toddler’s car seat

(Updated June 7, 2012, at 8:00 pm MDT)

This photo, taken last week by an Aurora, Colo., police officer during a ‘Click It or Ticket’ stop, has gone viral. In addition to the gas can being buckled into the car seat instead of the toddler and the toddler being unbuckled, note there is no cap on the gas can. But wait; it gets better.

Today the Denver Post reports that when questioned by the officer, the mother, Sandra Ramirez, claimed her 3-year-old son was buckled into the car seat when she was first stopped, but that during the stop he wiggled out and moved over to the passenger seat. Ramirez explained to a local TV station:

“He unbuckled it,” Ramirez told 9NEWS. “He knows how to unbuckle it. I did not notice him until [out of] the corner of my eye as I’m turning. The lights are flashing behind me [and] he jumped over and put on his big-boy belt.”

Ramirez was originally stopped for making an illegal turn. She was cited for the illegal turn, no proof of insurance, and three counts of seat-belt violations (a 14-year-old was also in the car).

“It is just a big misunderstanding, and I’m sorry if I offended anybody, but I’m not a bad mom,” Ramirez told 9News. She said she is going to sell the car and not drive again.


So a 3-year-old unbuckled his seat belt, moved over to the passenger seat, and then buckled the gas can into the car seat? And despite what the law says about children that age always being buckled into a child safety seat, he knows about his “big-boy belt”? And there was an illegal turn, no proof of insurance, and three seat-belt violations. And the mother thinks the solution to all this is just to sell the car and quit driving?

Wow. Just … wow.

Update: A new report from Denver’s Channel 7 includes a video interview with Ramirez (if you can get it to play) and some additional information:

Ramirez also had a 2003 domestic violence arrest in Aurora that included charges of assault and battery, accord [sic] to Colorado arrest records. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence-related assault.

That same year, Ramirez was arrested for obstructing police in Arapahoe County, records show.

Sandra Ramirez

Sandra Ramirez

Channel 4 also has posted a video of Ramirez:

And from the local Fox affiliate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


    • Jeez! That’s funny but scary at the same time. You can’t tell me that kid hadn’t spent some time behind the wheel before this, probably with the aid of a parent who thought it would “cute.” Yeah, right. Wonder what they’re thinking now …

  1. This will surprise some, but I believe the mom. Tell you why: the gas can is not properly secured because the chest strap is aft (behind, for you landlubbers) of the filler neck and in that position would not restrain the can in the event of a crash. If mom had done it, it would have been easy and common sense to place it forward of the filler neck. The kid was probably playing and did exactly what she said he did.

    Point number B. She sure as hell should have had a cap on the thing, if in fact it doesn’t. (But from the picture, it looks capped to me.)

    Point numero tres. There have been many people in prison who were proved wrongly convicted.

    • I, too, noticed how the can was secured and didn’t think it looked like the work of an adult. But a toddler out of his seat and he or someone else playing with a gas can — bad news. IzaakMak also mentioned feeling sympathetic (on the other post). My reply was, “Given all the citations she got, I don’t feel much sympathy. Nobody in the car was buckled up, and two of the three were old enough to know better. Sure, a toddler might wiggle out of his seat if not taught not to, but there was also the illegal turn, the driving without insurance, and the uncapped gas can. Plus, one report mentioned several past run-ins with police. Maybe not relevant, but responsible adults I know don’t keep getting crosswise with the police. I think she’s trying to snow everybody.” There are conflicting reports about the past charges, but the violation of seat belt laws, three times over, with kids in the car … yes, I get very judgmental where child safety is concerned.

      • I think I might be on Mr. Wheeler’s side on this… the kids could have been buckled properly but, being kids, unbuckled themselves after being stopped. The illegal turn and the rest of it, sure, but the seat belts… I think she’s got a case. That’s the problem with using a snapshot as proof…

        • But she wasn’t buckled either. In addition to insisting her kids be (and stay) buckled in, she should be setting the example by always buckling her own belt.

        • …setting the example…

          Sorry, that’s what I meant by “the rest of it”, I was in a hurry — we just had a wicked hail storm and I wanted to get pictures… they were about the size of cranberries.

          There’s this thing in China, it’s called the “Human Flesh Search Engine” where thousands of anonymous Internet users — using only the very basic information from a photo or a video, or even a written description — will work like a hive to find and shame people who have done something “wrong”. ‘Wrong’ being defined by the group, but generally something they believe to be “anti-China”.

          When news organizations feel a need to show up on people’s doorsteps to demand an explanation over a single image because thousands of people are are leaving negative comments on blogs and Twitter — that bugs me. At worst she did everything she’s accused of and, whatever the fine is, she should pay it.

          But if we’re going to have an international shaming session every time a parent screws up, even more than once, we’re going to need a lot more reporters and a lot more bandwidth.

        • I plead guilty to piling on, along with lots of media help. I’m not sure why the police department posted the photo to Facebook in the first place, unless to promote their Click It or Ticket campaign. Once the Denver news outlets heard about it, they had to keep up with or outdo each other in covering the story. And of course it then went out to their national networks and all their affiliates. I suppose one could start with the police department when casting blame. Without their posting the photo, it would have been just another traffic stop.

"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." ~ John F. Kennedy

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