Crib Recall

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

Visiting the grave of Elizabeth, Cindy Stephens and daughters Kylie and Ginger are relieved now that another recall has been issued for cribs such as the one Elizabeth was in when she died in 2003. Recall notices went to various news agencies including Associated Press and members of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Stores. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Family rests after second crib recall

By Rupert Howell

You may or may not have noticed a recent national recall from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released December 2 and having to do with “Molly” and “Betsy” baby cribs. The recall warned of “entrapment and strangulation hazards” and mentions concerns that cribs could now be at second hand or thrift stores.

Actually the news release said it was a voluntary re-announcement of a 2001 recall by LaJobi Inc., of Cranbury, N.J. that said in part, “LaJobi has not received any report of injuries involving these cribs but…”

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The problem is that Cindy Stephens of Batesville never received the recall notice.

Six years later the re-announcment recall states, “Consumer Product Safety Commission is aware of the death of a one-year-old girl whose head and neck became entrapped in the headboard cut-out of the ‘Betsy’ style crib in 2003, following the 2001 recall…”

That girl was Cindy’s and her former husband Derek’s daughter. Her name is Elizabeth Grace Stephens. She was actually two when she died and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery, located on a hill that stands above the City of Batesville.

Stephens said that she and Elizabeth’s father agreed that a recall was a non-negotiable part of any settlement. Her attorneys, including Briggs Smith and Jason Nabors, confirmed that an expert was used to assure the best type of recall was obtained with Stephens noting, “Obviously the first one didn’t work.”

Cindy always thought she wanted to get away from small town atmosphere. Following Elizabeth’s death, her attitude changed about living in this small town and she now credits faith, friends and acquaintances for pulling her through the tough times.

“People reached out and wanted us to pull strength from them. You never know when you are going to need them,” she said of friends.

Although she considered her faith challenged, she stressed that it has been made stronger through ordeals beginning with the 2003 death of Elizabeth. She also wonders how people without faith can humanly endure great losses such as those similar to hers.

Speaking of the recalled crib she explained, “No one in their right mind would put their child in something they thought was dangerous. You think that a baby’s crib is the safest place they can be. Derrick and I were so floored. You expect it to be safe, away from harm,” Stephens said.

The Italian-made cribs were nice, priced at about $650. She had put it in lay-away before taking it home. She should have been easy to locate with a recall notice. It was also a nice enough crib that it would have served generations to come. That’s her concern now – that  descendants of the original owners or unknowing persons purchasing them from second hand or thrift stores will use them.

With Cindy, time was of the essence as she remembered her own pain and suffering and wanted to make sure no one else went through their ordeal.

“It was my fear that they (other crib owners) would pass it on and have no idea they had a potential death trap. If I could avoid this happening to someone else, if we could prevent it, we would let what happened to her (Elizabeth) help someone else,” Stephens said.

 The process of seeking the recall also gave Stephens focus during her healing process which she admits still goes on today. “It helped me heal,” she said.

Stephens’ 12-year-old daughter Ginger was six at the time of the accident. She remembers her sister and the dreadful day. Another sister, Kylie, now seven, was an infant at the time.

“Sometimes a child’s perspective is purest,” Stephens, who is now a teacher at North Delta School, said while continuing, “as she couldn’t understand how anyone would make something that was unsafe. In her mind what it (the recall) gave her was a sense of peace — that something good was coming from Elizabeth.”

The incident has also had a profound effect on Stephens who said, “This affected me and my family and friends. I have friends now who won’t put their babies in cribs.”

About 400 of the beds were recalled with consumers asked to stop using the products until otherwise instructed.

Consumers should contact LaJobi to receive replacement end panels at (800) 266-2848 or visit the firm’s website at or CPSC’s website at

Last May a storm containing straight line winds came through Panola County leaving a path of destruction, the likes of which haven’t been seen in several years.

At the Stephens’ home on Church Street, a massive oak crashed through and demolished everything under it, sparing Cindy and her two girls.

Was she concerned about her faith again being tested?

“Those kind of things don’t bother me anymore,” she said. “It was just stuff.”