MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Meghan DeLong of Lakeland still vividly remembers the details of May 14th, 2017.
She had finalized the adoptions of both of her sons, Kaleb and Conner, so it was her first Mother’s Day.
“Connor was nowhere in sight. I frantically peeled back the dresser drawers [and found Conner] inside the second drawer,” said DeLong who discovered the dresser had toppled on top of him.
DeLong ended up spending that day in the hospital with Conner, only two-years-old at the time, on life support. He died the next day.
“It’s a never-ending problem. It didn’t stop on Mother’s Day. It didn’t stop on May 15 [the day he died],” said DeLong.
Since then, it’s been her mission to make a change and she quickly learned she wasn’t alone.
“It’s a bond, I say this is a family I never wanted but I’m so glad that I have because nobody else understands,” said DeLong.
The same year Conner died, another mother in Utah shared a heart-stopping video of her twin boys, also two-years-old, barely escaping a toppled dresser. One brother miraculously saved the other.
DeLong adds that many of these tragedies don’t get reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or CPSC.
According to the CPSC, there are more than 15,000 emergency room visits every year, associated with furniture or TV tip-overs. On average, one child dies every 10 days from these types of accidents. DeLong feels they are avoidable.
“All of these other children that have been injured, they could’ve died. Connor could have lived,” she said. “It’s a matter of chance. Just the way the cookie crumbled for me and how it went for them.”
DeLong, along with others in an advocacy group called ‘Parents Against Tipovers’ have been fighting for change in the furniture industry. She says it’s been to no avail. So she’s now filing a lawsuit against the American Home Furnishings Alliance and the American Society of Testing Materials.
“When the carrot doesn’t work, that’s what the stick is for,” said Thomas Scolaro, DeLong’s attorney. “Meghan and I hope to bring some change with this lawsuit.”
“Now to [the industry], they’re not children. They’re data. But to us and to the next person, they’re people. They’re children. This face is a real face. This is a perfect, perfect face that doesn’t get to have a life.”
Even though Conner didn’t get to live, DeLong is making sure her baby boy’s death is not in vain.
“Conner was absolute perfection,” described DeLong. “[He had] beautiful white hair, blue eyes, a bubbly personality that lit up a room.”
Through her foundation, Conner’s Legacy, DeLong works to educate parents on the dangers of furniture tip-overs. They also send kits to people who want to anchor their furniture for free.
“I work with safety coalitions,” said DeLong of her foundation. “Anyone who will listen, I will talk to.”
DeLong has channeled her pain into purpose, but she says the pain will never go away.
“I think that my anger, my frustration, my emotions, I think they will be raw until the day I die,” said DeLong. “This is something [that is the] last thing I see when I close my eyes. First thing I see when I open them. It’s burned into my memory for a lifetime.”
If you’re interested in more information on furniture tip-overs or want to request a kit to anchor your furniture, visit Connor’s Legacy.