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Caught on Camera: Video shows woman driving on phone with unrestrained child

It happened on Madison Avenue in Skowhegan. The woman who shot the video was in the passenger seat, waiting at a stoplight when she looked over and saw a little boy in the front seat not wearing a seatbelt. (Contributed video)

SKOWHEGAN (WGME) -- A woman is facing charges after a video shows her on her cell phone and driving with a young child in the front seat without a seat belt.

It happened on Madison Avenue in Skowhegan. The woman who shot the video was in the passenger seat, waiting at a stoplight when she looked over and saw a little boy in the front seat not wearing a seatbelt.

When the light turns green and the driver on a cell phone starts to move, the young boy in the video appears to fall back in the seat.

"That's just downright wrong, scary,” Dawn Gentile, mother, said.

The woman who shot the video Wednesday asked CBS 13 not to identify her. She says she tried to get the driver's attention but couldn't.

“She’s clearly distracted. I think it's unacceptable. He should have been in a rear facing toddler car seat in the back seat, in the middle,” Olympia Thibault, mother, said.

"She's focused on, well in this case, two things. Driving and talking on the phone. Her focus wasn't where it should have been, and that would be on the safety of her child." Skowhegan Police Chief Joel Cummings said.

Chief Cummings says within hours they identified the driver and tried to make contact with her.

"She is facing charges. I can't disclose which charge at this point. And she is to be named when she is charged,” Chief Cummings said.

Sylvane Pontin is a retired ER nurse.

"It’s so dangerous. If there's a collision, you're going to get really injured. And can be ejected from the vehicle even,” Pontin said. "It's a recipe for disaster."

"I think her license should be taken away. I think her kids should be taken away. And I think she should go to jail,” Gentile said.

Skowhegan Police say they are glad the woman brought the video to their attention. There's a lot of outrage in the community over the video. But police say this is something they will handle.


CAR SEAT FAQ (FROM https://www1.maine.gov/dps/bhs/child-passenger-safety/index.shtml )

IMPORTANT, if your family is expecting a baby, plan at least 3 weeks ahead of the due date to have your child safety seat installed in your vehicle. Many babies are delivered within the month surrounding the due date, so being prepared may help eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress.

Car seat Installation, four easy steps:

Read the manufacturer's instructions for your car seat

Face the child safety seat in the proper direction

Infant seats always face backwards. Baby rides in a semi-reclining position facing the rear of the car.

Convertible seats face backwards in a semi-reclining position for infants under 20 pounds and under 1 year of age, and forward in an upright position for toddlers.

***The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety also holds free car seat check events to ensure proper installation. Two events are scheduled for southern Maine this summer:

Sunday, June 25 -- Cumberland County -- Sam's Club, 440 Payne Road, Scarborough, ME 04074 -- 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Saturday, July 8 -- York County -- Massabesic Middle School, 134 Old Alfred Road, East Waterboro, ME 04030 -- 12 p.m. until 4 p.m.


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