A family in Virginia has suffered an unthinkable loss this week. The parents of 2-year-old Bayron Alexander Zapata have been left to grieve after a tragic accident took his life. As the family mourns, child safety experts are speaking out about how parents can prevent a similar tragedy in their own homes.
Bayron Alexander Zapata: What Happened
Zapata’s family had reportedly been visiting in-laws in Fairfax, Virginia on the evening of June 7. His father, Byron Zapata, had been working on his truck in the driveway as his son played nearby. Then, preparing to back his truck out of the driveway, Byron took his son into the house.
“I put him inside and told him to stay inside, and he said, ‘OK, Daddy.’ But I didn’t realize when he came out again,” the grief-stricken father told Telemundo 44. “When the truck accident happened it was too late.”
The boy’s mother, Kelly Castillo, was inside with her sister-in-law when she heard screams from outside.
“I saw through the window my baby on the floor and when I saw my baby on the floor, I didn’t know what to do,” Castillo said. “It’s too hard for me.”
Her son, who some outlets name as Bairon Alexander Castillo and who reportedly went by Alex, had been hit by his father’s truck. While the mother didn’t witness the accident, she said her 4-year-old daughter did.
“She saw the whole scene and last night, she couldn’t even go to sleep because her body would shake,” the mother said.
According to NBC 4 Washington, police arrived on the scene to find the boy with serious injuries. First responders soon declared him dead.
Detectives with the county’s Crash Reconstruction Unit have begun an investigation of the incident. However, police say they don’t suspect foul play or alcohol intoxication as possible causes.
Preventing Backover Accidents
In the wake of the incident, childcare experts have spoken out about the dangers of so-called “backover accidents.” According to nonprofit Kids and Cars, at least 50 children are backed over by cars in the US every week. Over 60% of these incidents involve large vehicles like trucks, vans or SUVs, while over 70% involve a family member behind the wheel.
“This happens to attentive, loving, responsible parents,” Kids and Cars Director Amber Rollins told WTKR. “You know, the reality is that toddlers are very quick.”
Rollins advised parents to watch out for what she called “Bye-Bye Syndrome.”
“[Children] want to say ‘bye-bye,’ and they sneak out the front door,” she said. “A lot of times, those 1- to 2-year-olds, the parents didn’t even know the child could open that door and get out on their own.”
Kids and Cars issued the following recommendations to keep kids safe:
- Keep front doors locked and install locks out of reach of children
- Make sure children are supervised when people are leaving or arriving at the house
- Walk around your vehicle and look for children before backing out, making sure any kids are supervised by an adult
- Don’t let young children walk in parking lots
- Roll down all windows when backing up
- Use a backup camera or sensor on your vehicle
“If you don’t have a backup camera on your vehicle, you can get one. You can purchase one aftermarket, and they’re pretty inexpensive now that they come as standard equipment on all new vehicles,” Rollins said.
In Virgina, community members erected a makeshift memorial outside Zapata’s house, where some gathered on Tuesday to remember the joyful boy who loved superheroes.
“He was always happy,” said his aunt Iris Zapata. “When we were around him, he would say, ‘Why are you serious? I came to play with you all.”
The boy’s parents expressed hope that others could learn a valuable lesson from their ordeal.
“Always be with your child, holding their hands, lock the doors so they don’t come out,” Zapata’s mother said. “Even if they’re playing outside, always be looking over them.”
The boy’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.