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Wolfeboro chief: 'NASCAR roll cage' wouldn't have saved child killed in dump truck crash

Union Leader Correspondent

May 21. 2018 9:00PM
A roadside memorial to Benjamin Baldwin, 6, is framed by pieces of the tree the dump truck he was riding in struck when the right front tire blew out. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

WOLFEBORO — Police Chief Dean Rondeau said he will not cite the driver of a dump truck involved in a fatal crash for failing to have his grandson secured in a car seat.

“Where is the humanity in that? You’re just adding insult to injury to a family that is already grieving,” said Rondeau. “What is that going to solve? That grandfather is going to bear that burden for the rest of his life.”

Benjamin Baldwin, 6, was wearing a seat belt, but was not buckled into a child safety seat during the May 2 crash.

The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of New Hampshire State Police completed its forensic investigation of the crash and confirmed that the driver lost control when the right front tire blew.

Damage on the passenger side of the truck was so severe that a NASCAR roll cage wouldn’t have helped prevent the fatal injuries, said Rondeau.

The first-grade student at Carpenter Elementary in Wolfeboro was riding in the older-model Mack 10-wheel dump truck driven by his maternal grandfather, Robert O’Blenes Sr., 67, of Ossipee.

Had the investigation shown that a safety seat would have prevented the death, Rondeau said he would have charged the driver, despite the tragedy.

State law requires that children under 7 who are 57 inches tall or shorter must ride in a federally approved car seat or booster. There are four exceptions — children riding in taxis, buses, or vehicles manufactured prior to 1968, or if there is an individualized education program statement contradicting the use of restraints.

Failure to use child passenger restraints is a violation-level offense punishable by a $50 fine. The statute specifically bars such a violation from being used as evidence of contributory negligence in a civil lawsuit.

Public Safety Wolfeboro

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