Rebecca Tafaro Boyer is hoping to raise awareness about car seats after her husband was in an accident with their son
Credit: Rebecca Tafaro Boyer

A mom from Memphis, Tennessee, was able to help her husband properly secure their baby in a car seat just minutes before they were involved in an accident — likely saving the infant from serious injury.

When Rebecca Tafaro Boyer returned to work on July 14 after finishing her maternity leave, she felt sad about being away from her 3-month-old baby, William, for the first time. But since her husband, David, would have William for the day, Rebecca insisted that he send hourly updates about how the little one was doing on his first day without her.

While Rebecca was busy covering her shift at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, David sent over a picture showing William in his car seat as they prepared to run errands. But the eagle-eyed nurse soon noticed that the straps of the seat were hanging loose and its chest clip was resting too low on William’s chest.

“When I actually looked at the picture he sent, I realized that the car seat really wasn’t safely secured,” Rebecca, 31, tells PEOPLE. “I just sent him a quick text and said, ‘Hey, fix the car seat,’ basically. And he did it — luckily.”

Baby William
| Credit: Courtesy Rebecca Tafaro Boyer

Just 15 minutes later, Rebecca received a call from David telling her a car steered into his path when making a left turn at an intersection — causing them to crash at 50 miles per hour.

“I pulled up to the scene of the crash, and I saw an ambulance and four cop cars,” Rebecca recalls. “Finally I saw my husband standing on the side of the road with my baby, and they were just laughing. At that point, I felt better. I was like, ‘Okay.’ I didn’t realize I couldn’t breathe until that moment.”

The family’s car was totaled in the crash, but because David had taken the time to heed Rebecca’s instructions about securing the car seat, William didn’t even wake up from his nap during the accident. David, on the other hand, suffered dislocated toes and multiple breaks to his foot during the crash. He is expected to make a full recovery, though he’ll be off from work for a few weeks.

After the accident, Rebecca — who usually keeps her Facebook posts private — was inspired to write a public message that touted the importance of proper car seat installation. The post went viral, garnering more than 32,000 shares and 8,000 likes in two weeks.

“Lots of other moms have been tagging their husbands and saying, ‘See, the strap needs to be up top,’ ” Rebecca says of the response to her post. “This seems to be a common conversation that lots of people have.”

Safe Kids Worldwide reports that properly secured car seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, and stress the importance of buying the right car seat to match your child’s size and age. The NHTSA also recommends that parents change their safety seat following a moderate or severe crash.

Credit: Courtesy: Rebecca Tafaro Boyer

Rebecca says other parents have reached out to her to say they found that they, too, have been making mistakes when placing their children in car seats and realized it thanks to her post.

“That’s the whole point of it,” Rebecca says. “It’s not to say, ‘Oh look at all this stuff I know.’ It’s, ‘Hey this happened and it did what it was supposed to do, and luckily my family’s fine.’ ”

Rebecca Tafaro Boyer with stepson Randall, son William, and husband, David
| Credit: Courtesy Rebecca Tafaro Boyer

While she initially felt her text to David could have been taken as being “overprotective,” Rebecca says the family is happy that a broken car — and foot — is all they had to worry about that day.

“I’m very lucky that I have a husband that obliges my ridiculous requests and sends me lots of pictures because it could have been so much worse,” she says. “I feel very fortunate that it wasn’t worse than it was. That’s really what we’re focusing on, is it could have been so much worse. The car’s a car. His foot will heal and the baby was fine.”