Toddler Paralyzed After Weekend Car Accident

CANTON, Ohio – A 3-year-old girl might never walk or breathe on her own again after being seriously injured in a weekend car accident.

Little Carmen Deleon is paying a very high price for the decisions that her parents made, Action News' Dawn Kendrick reported.

She barely made it out alive. The shape of her tiny head was chillingly chiseled into the windshield.

Carmen was unrestrained in the front passenger seat when her father slammed into the car in front of them. The vehicle's airbag only made things worse (airbag warning pictured, above).

Carmen broke her neck and is paralyzed from the neck down.

"It's a time to pull together," Carmen's aunt, Thelma Quezada, said. "I don't know if she will be able to walk again or even breathe on her own again."

The warnings are clear: Children under 12 years of age can be killed by airbags; Parents should always use seat belts and child restraints when buckling their kids up; And, the backseat is the safest place for small children.

Carmen's mother, Stacey Deleon, was in the backseat, and was uninjured.

Police said that the driver, Arturo Deleon, was wearing a seatbelt, and was uninjured. He was also unable to pass a sobriety test at the crash scene.

According to the police report, the officer who showed up on the scene said that Carmen's mother was frantic, holding the body of her "lifeless" daughter. The officer performed CPR and most likely saved Carmen's life.

"The parents are very stressed," Quezada said. "They are beating themselves. It was an accident. She should have been restrained and she was not.

"Everybody is there for the parents. They are very young and they need to focus on her, not at who is at fault or what they should or should not have done. That's the past now."

On Friday, Arturo will have some answering to do in court, answering to charges of drunken driving. Prosecutors told Action News that more charges having to do specifically with the pain that he has caused his daughter are likely on the way.

Carmen's aunt said that the family is keeping a constant vigil at the hospital. She said she believes that their prayers are being answered because Carmen opened her eyes for the first time on Tuesday and is coherent.