CINCINNATI -- Seven-year-old Gino DiMario, who loved piano lessons and going to church with his family, was dead by the time first responders arrived at his grandparents' home on February 19, 2005.
He had been playing in the parking lot when a family member, not noticing the thatch of blond hair behind their bumper, rolled over him in a minivan. He died instantly.
Although 13 years have passed since that night, his mother, Sharron DiMario, said the hole in her heart never gets smaller.
"You have to figure out what your new life is without your child," she said. "It doesn't make the hurt go away."
DiMario belongs to a group whose members -- those who have lost their children to "backover" accidents caused by relatives -- often live with a grief matched in intensity only by their guilt. On the website created to memorialize the young victims of "backup" incidents and push for automobile companies to become part of the solution, one mother wrote the backup death of her daughter "haunts me from the moment I wake up … and (I) try to force the pictures out of my mind when I go to sleep.
"You have no idea the pain that swells inside every cell in my body when I remember that moment," she wrote.
Dealing with that grief can feel impossible, DiMario said. She channeled hers into working with Kids and Cars, an organization that partners with manufacturers to implement child-safe changes in car design.
Their advocacy work contributed to the 2001 mandate that all U.S.-manufactured cars have an internal release in their trunks, and it's the reason all cars sold in the year 2018 must have rearview cameras installed to prevent incidents like the one that claimed Gino DiMario's life.
"I think he'd be proud of us," Sharron DiMario said. "I think he would see and say that, ‘Good job, Mom and Dad. It was the right thing to do.'"
Their group of survivors gained a new member Tuesday in Union Township, where a mother backed over and killed her 10-month-old daughter after placing the girl's car seat behind the back wheel of her vehicle.
Police said the death appeared to be accidental and declined to press charges against the mother. DiMario said she hopes members of that family, like her own, are able to work through their grief, guilt and shame with support from those around them.
"I think it's really important for family members and friends to not be judgmental," she said. "I wish and hope for that mom that she has the same kind of support group and that same kind of faith that will get you through this.
"You never get over it. You just get through it."