Crib Crusade Goes Statewide

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Delta Children's Products
    Some drop-side cribs made are recalled after two infants die.

    It has become their crusade.

    Two Long Island couples, bonded by a common tragedy, now also share a crusade against the piece of furniture they claim changed their lives forever -- the so called "drop-side" crib.

    Michele and Henning Witte of Merrick lost their son, 10-month-old Tyler, in a crib accident in 1997.

    Susan and Robert Cirigliano of North Bellmore lost six-month-old Bobby in 2004.

    The couples shared their tragic stories with a group of NY state lawmakers in Farmingdale Thursday, in an effort to push through a proposed statewide ban on the sale and manufacture of these cribs.

    The cribs can become death traps, the couples detailed, if the hardware holding the crib's movable side is loosened. That side can then fall without warning. 

    The result, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, has been dozens of infant deaths and thousands of injuries each year.

    The Witte and Cirigliano families have helped lobby lawmakers in Suffolk, Nassau and Rockland counties to approve crib bans since last October.

    "It has been exhausting," said Michele Witte. "But we need to keep going."

    But even as they pushed for a state ban, the couples lamented that their primary goal, a federal ban on the cribs, has continued to elude them.

    "We wonder sometimes how long it will take and how many more babies will have to be injured or killed before that happens," said Susan Cirigliano.

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has already recalled millions of drop-side cribs but critics insisted the repairs for the recalled cribs don't ensure safety.

    However, the general counsel for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a crib makers trade group, told state lawmakers that not all drop-sides are dangerous.

    "Many of us here today were put in drop-sides without incident," said Rick Locker, who added that safety standards for cribs have been improved and nearly all retailers will no longer sell drop-side cribs.

    None of this seemed to deter the Wittes and Ciriglianos, who worry about older cribs sitting in attics and garages, waiting to be reused.

    "Just don't use these cribs," said Robert Cirigliano. "They are dangerous."