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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

State to Provide Safety Seats to Families

RALEIGH, N.C. – Carolina Hurricanes left wing Erik Cole will help North Carolina mark Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Week on Wednesday as the state announces its $300,000 gift of child-safety seats and installation training to North Carolina’s neediest families. Cole will join members of the State Highway Patrol, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) and others at a 1:30 p.m. press conference, tomorrow in the RBC Center club restaurant.

Speakers at tomorrow’s press conference will include Don Nail, acting director of the GHSP; Colonel Richard Holden, commander of the State Highway Patrol; Cole; Dr. Colleen Casey, emergency room physician at Rex Healthcare, and Paula Mitchell of Fuquay-Varina. In August, just days after bringing her newborn daughter home, Mitchell nearly died when she crashed her vehicle and was ejected. Safely secured in her infant seat, the baby was not injured.

The event will provide the official debut of two new public service announcements featuring Governor Mike Easley and Cole. Cole, a spokesperson for the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, is the father of a toddler who always rides in her safety seat – in the back seat, away from the dangers posed to children by airbags.

“As a father, the safety of my child always comes first,” said Cole. “Properly using child-safety seats is essential to ensuring children’s safety when traveling. I’m proud to be a part of North Carolina’s initiative to increase and ensure child safety.”

The GHSP is a sponsor of Friday’s Hurricanes game against the Washington Capitals. CPS technicians and GHSP staff will be available to answer questions about transportation safety at display tables in the RBC Center. Game patrons will have a chance to register for a jersey autographed by Cole.

In addition to the $300,000 North Carolina has committed to provide free safety seats to low-income families across the state, the Target Corporation has donated 55 safety seats worth $2,750 for use at clinics conducted during CPS Week. A clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Birth Center Parking Deck at Rex Healthcare. Stormy, the Hurricanes’ mascot, will be on hand to greet children and their families.

In 2001, at least 27 children younger than 16 were completely unrestrained when they died in North Carolina traffic crashes. At least 19 more unrestrained or incorrectly restrained children died in the first 11 months of 2002, including a toddler in a lap/shoulder belt who died in a Raleigh crash. Safety experts say that many of these children would have survived – some with only minor injuries – had they been using an age-appropriate restraint.

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