On what should have been her son’s seventh birthday, Feldman
Shepherd’s former client, Crystal Ellis, testified at a congressional hearing about
the dangers of furniture tip-overs and the day that forever divided her life
into before her 23-month-old son Camden was killed in his bedroom when a
three-drawer IKEA MALM dresser tipped over, and after.
The hearing before the House Committee on Energy and
Commerce on June 13, 2019, addressed the inadequacy of the current (but
voluntary) safety standard for dressers sold in the United States. Ellis urged
lawmakers to pass the STURDY Act (Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on
Youth Act). The act, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. in April 2019,
would impose a stronger, mandatory stability standard for dressers, also
referred to in the furniture industry as “clothing storage units.” It is the
second attempt by lawmakers to strengthen the standard. A similar bill
introduced in 2016 did not receive a vote.
Ellis described for lawmakers the horrific events that transpired in her home in 2014 two days before her son’s second birthday. The 30 3/4 inch tall IKEA dresser toppled forward, trapping Camden’s neck between the drawers and causing him to suffocate. He was unable to cry for help. The family did not hear the dresser fall.
But Ellis heard her husband’s screams when he went to wake
up Camden for breakfast. She told the committee she still hears those screams
After trying her best to revive Camden with CPR, and after
Camden spent four days in a coma at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the family had
to say goodbye. They donated Camden’s organs to hopefully save another family
from their heartache.
At the time, Ellis thought it was a “freak” accident. She
later discovered that Camden was the seventh child to die from an IKEA dresser
tip-over. Sadly, there have been additional deaths from IKEA dresser tip-overs since
Camden’s. Ellis, who is a founding member (along with another Feldman Shepherd
client) of the child-safety organization Parents Against Tip-Overs, said that furniture
tip-overs are in fact common, every-day occurrences in the United States.
Ellis testified that before her son’s death, she had no idea
of the danger. She had taken multiple “getting ready for baby” classes and had
childproofed her home. But “[N]one of the professional educators, healthcare
providers, mom group leaders, or parents had ever told me about the risk of
dresser tip-overs killing my child,” she said.
Ellis said that she knows that there are many other parents
in this country who have no idea that their dressers pose a potentially deadly
risk to their children. “They assume, as I did, that any product that is sold
in the United States of America has been vetted and tested by their government
and would not be sold if it could kill us.”
Every day at Feldman Shepherd we are inspired by so many of our clients who dedicate themselves to a mission to prevent other families from suffering tragedies similar to their own. We commend Crystal Ellis for her testimony and the work that she is doing to improve product safety. We also extend our gratitude and appreciation to all our furniture tip-over clients who have tirelessly advocated to help keep children safe in their bedrooms.
To watch Crystal Ellis’ testimony, CLICK HERE.
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