Kitsap coroner giving cribs to help save babies

BREMERTON, Wash. -- People who study newborn deaths say cribs should be considered a safety mechanism as important as car seats, yet many parents still go without and it can lead to tragic results.

Kitsap County Deputy Coroner Greg Sandstrom says his office often receives calls about families who didn't own cribs.

"They're liable to put it on the couch with a whole bunch of blankets and pillows and that's the worst place you can put a baby because they'll suffocate," Sandstrom said.

So to cut back on accidental or sudden infant deaths, Sandstrom launched the Cribs for Kids program Thursday, becoming the first coroner in the Northwest to give away portable cribs to families who can't afford them.

Within hours, he received more requests than he had cribs.

Deborah Robinson became an infant death investigation specialist after suffering the heartache of losing her six week old son Ian to sudden infant death.

"I came home from a run and found him dead in his crib," she said. "Was in his crib, he was lying face down which we know know is a major risk factor."

Robinson says more infants will die of unsafe sleep in Washington than they ever will in a car accident.

"In Snohomish County alone, we lose a kindergarten class of kids to unsafe sleep," Robinson said.

The coroner says several deaths are preventable and no crib could mean a death sentence.

"If we can prevent one death, the whole program's worth it," Sandstrom said.

Babies sleeping in unsafe spaces, including their parents' beds, reportedly face a 40 percent greater risk of dying.

Several local police departments from Tacoma to Bothell are also participating in the program.

For more information or to request a crib, call Sandstrom's office at (360) 337-7077.