- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Timothy Frink of Hollywood tells a story about his granddaughter, Brianna Jones. When she had just turned 2 years old, she was in the back seat of the car when the family was driving over the bridge to Solomons.
“It’s amazing!” Brianna exclaimed at the sight, Frink said, adding that, knowing her, she probably threw out her arms for emphasis as she said it.
Little Brianna, by all accounts, was an enthusiastic participant in life. “She was so precious,” Frink said Monday morning. “She was the type of child who absolutely filled up your life.”
Described as precocious and athletic, Frink said that Brianna was an intrepid little girl. “The only things she was afraid of was loud noises and the Big, Bad Wolf,” he said.
Brianna, 3, died July 10 when she was accidently strangled by a venetian blind cord at her family’s home in Tennessee.
The daughter of Christianna Frink Jones, a 2000 graduate of Great Mills High School, and Christopher Adam Jones, Brianna was born March 27, 2009, in El Paso, Texas. Both of Brianna’s parents are military police sergeants in the U.S. Army, and during a nine-month period in 2011, when both her parents were deployed in Iran, Brianna lived in St. Mary’s County with her grandmother and step-grandfather, Rita and Nathan Laulis of Tall Timbers, who were helped by grandfather and step-grandmother, Timothy and Molly Frink.
“It was like [she was] our little girl,” Frink said of their relationship.
On July 10 at the Jones family’s current home in Tennessee, Christianna had taken off from work to watch Brianna, 3, and Brianna’s 2-year-old sister, Alexis, because their day care provider was on vacation. After setting up a video so that Brianna could have a quiet time, Christianna went to another room to take care of Alexis. When she went back to check on Brianna, she found her daughter strangled by a venetian blind cord that was close to the couch where Brianna had been sitting.
“It’s the sort of accident that can happen in the blink of an eye,” Frink said.
The family asked that the story of Brianna’s death be published, because they believe it could serve to make other parents a little more aware.
“You hear things, safety warnings, and, if you’re a good parent, you know, of course, that could be a hazard,” Christianna said. “I’ve never been one of those super-paranoid kind of mothers.” She said she wanted to let her two girls be the little children they were.
“You never know when tragedy may strike,” Christianna said.
Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit organization with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, suggests that caregivers of children up to 4 years old should tie up all window blind and drapery cords out of reach.
Christianna spoke of the family’s loss. “Brianna was so intelligent. She had a memory better than some adults I know,” she said, adding that Brianna could relate in detail events from when she was 1.
“It was astounding to us,” Christianna said. “We knew there was such a bright future for her.”
But Brianna made a big impact in just her three years of life. “She had just a sunny disposition. She was our happy one,” her mother said.
Christianna told a story of one day when Christianna was “frustrated because of, whatever.” And Brianna looked up at her mom and started swinging her arms and singing a song from a children’s television program, “When you’re feeling mad, here’s what you do calm down, calm down.”
“She put a huge smile on my face,” Christianna said. “She could do that with anybody, anytime.”
She served as an example of “what being a bright, positive person could be,” Christianna said. Brianna’s lesson to others is “there’s nothing so bad that you shouldn’t have a smile on your face.”
A celebration of life memorial service will be held Saturday, July 21, at 5 p.m. on the beach on Lighthouse Road in Piney Point. Shuttles will transport people from the Paul Hall Center (formerly the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship) in Piney Point. Guests are asked to dress in casual, brightly colored beach attire, since this is Brianna’s going-away beach party.
Tips to prevent choking, suffocation and strangulation provided by Safe Kids Worldwide, a global nonprofit organization with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, include the following:
Choking Keep small objects such as buttons, beads, marbles, coins and tacks out of reach (and sight).
Don't let children younger than 3 eat small, round or hard foods, including small pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks/chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes and popcorn.
Buy only age-appropriate toys for your toddler. Use a small parts tester (or a toilet paper roll) to determine whether toys and objects in your home may present a choking hazard to young children.
Suffocation Don’t allow toddlers to sleep on couches, chairs, regular beds or other soft surfaces.
Never allow young children to play in poorly ventilated spaces such as laundry machines, car trunks and toy chests.
Strangulation Tie up all window blind and drapery cords out of reach.
Avoid dressing children in necklaces, purses, scarves, helmets or clothing with drawstrings.
For more tips, see www.safekids.org.