When John and Rose Lineweaver were
married in 1981, their merged family had 11 adopted
children. When Danny was born in 1982, he made it an even
dozen. On July 14, 1984, just before his second birthday,
he fussed when put into his crib for a nap. Shortly, the
room became quiet. When the Lineweavers went to check on
him, they found him hanging outside his crib, his shirt
caught on the corner post extension of his crib. Strangled,
he suffered permanent brain damage and severe disability.
Danny died peacefully at age eleven from complications of a
THROUGH GRIEF TO ADVOCACY
At first, the Lineweavers thought that
what had happened to Danny was a unique “freak accident”.
But they soon learned that 40 children had died in similar
circumstances between 1973-1985, and realized that there
could be many more incidents that they had not heard about.
And death was only part of the tragedy. How many little ones
like Danny had survived, only to live very restricted and
They hired a law firm to determine
what, if anything, they could do. They sued the crib
manufacturer and the retail outlet that sold them Danny's
crib. A settlement from the lawsuit permitted them to create
and provide initial funding for The Danny Foundation in
The Danny Foundation’s mission is to
educate the public about crib dangers and to eliminate the
millions of unsafe cribs currently in use or in storage.
Cribs are the only juvenile product manufactured for the
express purpose of leaving a child unattended. Therefore, we
must take extraordinary care to ensure that a crib is the
safest possible environment. The Danny Foundation provides
citizen leadership in the development of regulatory
standards for safe nursery products.
The Lineweavers were appalled to learn
that there was only one mandatory standard for crib safety,
dating back to 1970s, which addressed slat spacing. It set
the widest allowable distance between crib slats at 2 3/8
inches. Wider spaces had permitted children to slide their
bodies but not their heads through the openings. The weight
of their bodies outside the crib would cause strangulation.
But Danny had dangled by his shirt
caught on the crib’s corner post. The Lineweavers wanted
to pass a law about crib corner posts, but discovered they
could only get a voluntary standard. They agreed to work
with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM),
a century-old, not-for-profit voluntary standards setting
In 1986, the allowable height for a
crib’s corner post was reduced from 2-3 inches to 5/8
inch. Then Temple University conducted a study and found
this height was just as lethal. ASTM dropped the standard to
an allowable height of 1/16 inch.
But the Lineweavers also discovered
another terrible reality. CPSC and ASTM standards applied
only to new cribs. They estimated that there were 20-30
million cribs in storage or in use at that time. They
petitioned CPSC to recall all unsafe cribs, but the petition
Attempts at recalls have been dismal
because manufacturers are responsible for administrating
them. Because of the threat of liability, manufacturers have
never supported these efforts. John Lineweaver notes that
“common sense would tell you they could sell more cribs if
all the dangerous ones were destroyed”, but the liability
issue is so threatening that manufacturers have never really
supported any recall efforts.
Manufacturers identify each crib by
model number. The Danny Foundation believes that
manufacturers and model numbers are almost irrelevant for
older cribs. If you explain to people what to look for in a
dangerous crib, people are smart enough to know if they have
one. A new petition was filed on March 20, 2000 with the
CPSC requesting a total recall of unsafe cribs.
Public education is essential. The
public thinks that “if their crib hasn’t been recalled,
it’s safe”. The Danny Foundation would like a quarterly
education campaign for the next three years, and wants
injury prevention professionals to help. A wide variety of
programs are needed, such as a toll free 800# in English and
Spanish, hospital and prenatal programs, and a website.
To destroy dangerous cribs, “reception
stations” could be set up by, for example, Goodwill
Industries and the Salvation Army. Currently these
organizations refuse to accept cribs, even as a donation.
Waste management companies could make a real contribution.
They could pickup and destroy any cribs left at “reception
stations”. The Danny Foundation supports giving people tax
credits for donating dangerous cribs.
In 1994, at the urging of the Danny
Foundation and partners, California was the first state to
make it illegal to use an “unsafe crib” for any
commercial purpose. “Unsafe” was defined as not
conforming to current standards. The law applied to resale,
hotels, leasing, daycare/childcare and hospitals, etc. There
is similar legislation in Washington, Arizona, Colorado,
Pennsylvania and Illinois where The Danny Foundation worked
with Kids In Danger. A federal bill is pending, but has no
appropriations to enforce its provisions.
CPSC reports that there were about 200
crib-related deaths in 1973. Now, about 50 infants and
toddlers die each year in crib-related tragedies. The Danny
Foundation wants to cut that number to zero. Danny’s
mother, Rose, observes that “The Danny Foundation is the
only good that has resulted from my son’s tragic and
WAYS TO CONTACT/CONTRIBUTE
The Danny Foundation
P.O. Box 680
Alamo, CA 94507