About 1 million Simplicity and Graco cribs have been recalled after three children became entrapped and suffocated.
The recall was announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission on Friday, more than two years after a California lawyer says he alerted the federal agency about a 9-month-old who died in a faulty crib.
“Two years and two deaths is not fast enough. It’s inexcusable that it took that long,” said Charles Kelly, who represents the parents of the 9-month-old. Liam Johns of Citrus Heights, Calif., died in April 2005.
In addition to the Johns baby, 6-month-old Edward Millwood died in November 2006 while in one of the Simplicity cribs. His parents filed suit against the manufacturer on Sept. 4.
A 1-year-old child died in a newer model of the cribs, which has not been recalled but is being investigated by the safety agency, commission officials said.
In all three deaths, consumers had installed the drop-rail side of the crib upside down, the agency said. This creates a gap in the crib that children can slide into and suffocate.
Seven other infants have been entrapped in the cribs, according to the commission. There have been 55 reports of the cribs’ drop sides detaching or the hardware failing to hold the side to the crib.
Kelly said he alerted the Consumer Product Safety Commission about the faulty crib in June 2005 but didn’t hear from the agency again until this week, when the commission sent someone to pick up the crib.
Commission spokesman Scott Wolfson said the agency has the crib, but he would not comment on the specific details of the case because it is under investigation.
“When we learn of a crib-related death, we take it very seriously,” Wolfson said. “Our No. 1 goal is to obtain custody of the dangerous product for the ability to look at it or analyze it.”
‘Products are safe’
Simplicity Inc., of Reading, Pa., manufactured all the cribs, which were made in China.
“We feel comfortable that our products are safe,” Simplicity President Ken Waldman said in a telephone interview.
The newer model cribs are safe, even though the 1-year-old died in one of the updated versions, Waldman said. “There are other factors involved with that case,” he said, refusing to discuss the details because of the investigation.
Child advocate Nancy A. Cowles said she feared the recall could lead parents to let their children sleep in less safe environments, such in the parents’ bed. “If this scares people out of cribs, then you are going to end up with other injuries,” said Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger.
Friday’s crib recall was the second-largest since the commission was created in 1972. In 1997, the commission recalled 1.2 million portable cribs made by Evenflo Company Inc.
In a separate crib recall in June, the commission recalled about 40,000 Nursery-in-a-Box cribs, manufactured by Simplicity, because the assembly instructions incorrectly explained how to attach the drop side.
None of the cribs that Simplicity currently supplies to stores is included in a recall, the company said in a statement.
The commission, however, cautioned consumers who have the newer versions not covered by the recall to check to make sure the drop side is installed right side up and securely attached. The newer hardware has a flexible tab at the top of the lower track and a permanent stop at the bottom. The older hardware has a flexible tab at the bottom of the lower tracks.
In an earlier Simplicity crib recall, a 19-month-old child in Myrtle Creek, Ore., died Jan. 6, 2006, in a crib that carried the Graco logo, the commission said in February 2006. Mattress support slats came out of the crib, and the child suffocated after getting trapped between the mattress and the footboard. That type of crib had been included in a December 2005 recall of about 104,000 Aspen 3 in 1 Cribs.
Friday’s recalled cribs, priced between $100 and $300, were sold by U.S. retailers and chains including Target Corp., Big Lots Inc. and family-owned Meijer Inc. from January 1998 through May 2007. The recall involves multiple models and models numbers.
- Aspen 3 in 1
- Aspen 4 in 1
- Crib N Changer Combo
- Pooh 4 in 1.
The recall also involves the following Simplicity-made cribs that were sold with the Graco logo:
- Aspen 3 in 1
- Ultra 3 in 1
- Ultra 4 in 1
- Ultra 5 in 1
The cribs have one of the following model numbers: 4600, 4605, 4705, 5000, 8000, 8324, 8800, 8740, 8910, 8994, 8050, 8750, 8760 and 8996. The numbers are on the envelope attached to the mattress support and on the label attached to the headboard.
The company is offering free repairs for cribs with older hardware. For more information, consumers can contact Simplicity at 888-593-9274 or visit the Web site.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.