A 5-year-old boy was ejected from a truck when his mother crashed on a California highway on Tuesday while she was on her cellphone, authorities told a local station.
The boy survived, but sustained major injuries and was airlifted to a trauma center, the California Highway Patrol said.
"It was an absolutely awful, traumatic scene," CHP Officer Sam Courtney told California's KSBW-TV. "As soon as the truck started rolling, he came out of the truck."
"It was an absolutely awful, traumatic scene. ... As soon as the truck started rolling, he came out of the truck."
The boy's mother was using her cellphone and driving distracted, the CHP told the station.
The wreck occurred at about 9:12 a.m. local time when the mother crashed into the center divider of the Highway 1 in Capitola, causing the vehicle to roll over multiple times, CHP said. Capitola is about 80 miles south of San Francisco.
The 5-year-old was not properly secured in a child safety seat, CHP said.
Officers found the boy's seat belt still buckled in the damaged truck, so they believe the boy slipped out of his belt, KSBW-TV reported.
"Don’t assume a seatbelt will restrain a child who is not at least 4’9”!" CHP said. "Tragically this child could have been uninjured if he were in the proper seat."
The boy's mother suffered moderate injuries, according to the station. She was identified as a 40-year-old woman from Watsonville.
Investigators will look into the possibility of recommending criminal charges against her, CHP Sgt. Grant Boles told the station.
"This is an unfortunate lesson to other parents," Boles said.