Madden James Patrick Mooney would have been 7 years old this month.

What You Need To Know

  • Unsafe sleep conditions is the number one cause of death among infants in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties

  • The Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator, whose son died in an unsafe sleeping environment, is raising awareness to educate others and prevent future tragedies

  • She says it's important for infants to sleep alone and on their backs with nothing surrounding them

“My son passed away in 2014,” said Jenna Ellinger, Madden’s mother. “He was placed in an unsafe sleep environment. He was surrounded in an adult bed by pillows and blankets and stuffed animals. He was put to sleep for his nap time at his daycare provider’s house.”

Ellinger says her son’s death may have been out of her control that day, but now she has the power to prevent it from happening again.

“I know what my kids go through every day,” said Ellinger. “I know what I go through every day. I think it’s important that we talk about it, and that it’s really happening or else nothing is ever going to change.”

Ellinger became the Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties at the Victims Assistance Center.

She says unsafe sleep is the number one fatality among infants, losing seven infants just this year.

“My only worry is that these numbers keep going on the rise before we can get ahead of it and right now we’re real behind it,” said Ellinger.

She’s reminding guardians to follow the standard safe sleep practices.

“Alone, on their back, in a crib with nothing else,” said Ellinger. “It doesn’t even have to be crib. It could be a pack and play. It could be a bassinet. We have to keep the area so free and so clear of everything else.”

She also says avoid sharing a bed and breastfeeding while tired.

Most importantly, ask for help.

“I didn’t realize this was a major issue either until I lost my son,” said Ellinger. “I think I’m doing my due diligence enough to bring awareness to it and say, OK, I don’t want this to happen to another mother. I don’t want this to happen to another family. We need to do our part and save these babies.”

Ellinger says she’ll continue educating others.

She’s also working with congressional leaders to pass a law to punish people who allow an infant to be harmed in an unsafe sleep environment.