Mom crashes car after toddler crawls to front seat

Published 10:50 am Friday, October 14, 2011

FRANKLIN—A Newsoms woman on Thursday was in satisfactory condition at a Richmond hospital after a 4:50 a.m. Wednesday crash on General Thomas Highway.

Megan Nicol Banton, 22, lost control of the 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier she was driving when her 2-year-old daughter attempted to crawl from the back seat to the front seat, said Trooper Sterling Johnson.

“She turned her attention to the child and she went off the road,” Johnson said.

The girl and her 3-year-old sister were treated and released from Southampton Memorial Hospital, where Banton also was taken before being transferred to MCV.

She was cited with failing to have her daughters in car seats, driving without a license and reckless driving, Johnson said.

Banton was driving toward Newsoms, south of Delaware Road when her car left the road.

“It turned over on its side, ran off the road in the ditch,” Johnson said. “It appears it went off the road sideways and rotated around.”

Banton told police she was on her way home when the crash occurred. Both girls were in the back seat, the trooper said.

Franklin Fire and Rescue has offered two free car seats to Banton.

The department receives grants to buy car seats for families that can’t afford them or to replace ones that don’t work properly.

“It’s not a program where you can come by and say ‘I need a car seat,’” said Deputy Chief Mark Carr. “We have to install them. All of our firefighters go through a course.”

Banton in December was sentenced to three months in jail for felony child neglect after her then 7-month-old daughter tested positive for cocaine. She was charged in April 2010 after Franklin social services officials and police showed up at her former Artis Street home to check on the welfare of her children.

The 7-month-old was found asleep on a mattress in a “soaking wet diaper covered in a soaking wet sheet.” Authorities took the children to Southampton Memorial Hospital, where the younger girls’ urine tested positive for cocaine. A second drug screening on the infant came back negative for cocaine.

Under the plea agreement, Banton was placed on supervised probation for five years. She also was required to complete parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and 100 hours of community service.