Mother Arrested, Faces Homicide Charges After Tragic Car Seat Error

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The entire case is just so incredibly tragic. A young mother has been arrested and faces charges of vehicular manslaughter after her 1-year-old daughter died in an accident that wasn’t her fault. Brittany Stephens was involved in a devastating car accident that took the life of her baby. Brittany wasn’t at fault, she wasn’t even driving the car. But a car seat mistake that contributed to the infant’s death may result in vehicular homicide charges against the mom.

Brittany Stephens was riding in a car that was struck by another car. The SUV was making a left turn on a green light when it was hit on the passenger side by off-duty Baton Rouge police officer Christopher Manuel. Manuel hit the car going 94 miles an hour.

The SUV flipped over, and everyone in the vehicle sustained injuries. Brittany’s daughter Seyaira sustained critical injuries, and died two weeks later. The SUV had seating for 5 passengers. But police say there were four adults and four children in the car at the time of the accident. No one was wearing a seat belt. The car seat Seyaira was riding in was wedged on the center console, between the two front seats.

The driver of the car Brittany and her daughter were riding in was cited for a seat belt violation, along with two other adults. Brittany was arrested for a seat beat violation, and an additional charge of vehicular manslaughter. Police say that her “gross negligence” in properly securing her daughter’s car seat contributed to the infant’s death.

brittany stephens

(Image: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office)

The officer who actually caused the accident was arrested and charged with one count each of speeding and vehicular manslaughter. He posted $15,000 bail and remains on PAID administrative leave.

Brittany was arrested on February 27. She posted the $3,600 bond and was released the next morning. Manuel’s attorney Ron Johnson told The Advocate that he is confident his client will be vindicated. He acknowledged that speed was a factor, but said “it hasn’t been determined if it played a role in the death of the minor.” East Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore III is reviewing the case. However, the office hasn’t yet determined if any of the involved parties will be charged.

(Image: iStock / Mitsuo Tamaki)