Victoria Watson death: Bucks County parents push for car seat safety after daughter’s death

UPPER SOUTHAMPTON TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) — A former Bucks County babysitter is now in prison after 11-month-old Victoria Watson died in her care nearly three years ago.

The infant’s heartbroken parents want to help other parents avoid the same scenario that claimed their daughter’s life.

Victoria Watson was 22 days from her first birthday when she died while sleeping in her car seat. Now her parents are fighting to keep this nightmare from happening again.

The Watson family is missing a piece. There are signs of Victoria all over the house – little ladybugs representing a little girl who is no longer here.

“She just made you feel at peace and at center of the world,” said her mother, Marita.

On August 27, 2019, the world of the family collapsed.

The 11-month-old girl was in the care of her babysitter Lauren Landgrebe when she was placed in the car seat to sleep. The car seat was placed on the dining table and left unattended for hours.

“She slipped down and the buckle was at the base of her neck,” said Victoria’s father, Michael.

Prosecutors say the babysitter was out by the pool.

“She was given a bottle and a towel (under her neck) and she was left unattended for several hours,” he said.

Michael Watson got the call that day that his daughter wouldn’t wake up.

“When I got to the house there was so much police activity and something you never forget,” recalled Michael Watson. “As I approached the house a detective came out and said they had taken Victoria to the hospital. But I could see the look on her face that it wasn’t good.”

Victoria died of asphyxiation. The top buckle of her car seat was secure, but the bottom buckle was never fastened. The car seat was at the wrong angle without being inserted into the correct base.

Landgrebe was sentenced to one to two years in prison for manslaughter, child endangerment, illegal operation of a daycare center and tampering with evidence.

ALSO SEE: Ms von Bucks sentenced to jail for choking death of 11-month-old baby at unlicensed day care center

Investigators say Landgrebe took a picture of Victoria as she slept in the car seat and deleted it when her husband noticed Victoria wasn’t breathing.

Now Victoria’s parents are fighting for a change in sentencing guidelines.

“For involuntary manslaughter, the range is 9 to 16 months,” said Marita Watson. “We want to work with the legislator to make the punishment more severe so that it has a deterrent effect on people.”

Investigators found that the babysitter often used the car seat to put children down for a nap while pack-and-play was available in the same room.

“Every time she did that, it was a ticking time bomb. It could have happened at any time. Unfortunately, on that particular day in August, she made a number of poor decisions in addition to those she routinely made, all of which were unknown to us,” said Marita Watson.

The Watsons want to better educate parents and carers about car seat safety and put pressure on manufacturers to change buckle designs to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“You can get it wrong. You shouldn’t be allowed to get it wrong,” said Michael Watson.

“We had so many hopes and dreams for Victoria and the woman she would become,” her mother said.

Now they hope to prevent the heartbreak they are feeling. After a lengthy three-year court case, they turn their efforts to advocacy.

Victoria’s parents say standardized education and training, beginning in the hospital’s labor wards, can go a long way.

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