4th-grader cited for seat belt tip that saved lives Girl, 3 relatives survive crash WEST COUNTY -- Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills

February 04, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Mieu Ming Truong never hesitates to remind her parents to buckle their seat belts when they get in the car, a habit she says they have yet to master.

Her persistence probably saved her life and those of three relatives involved in a head-on collision last September on the Washington Beltway. Yesterday, she received a Good Citizenship Award from the state police for her efforts.

"This award is being given to her because she saved four lives," Trooper Russell W. Newell told a group of students at Brockbridge Elementary School during a ceremony honoring Mieu yesterday. Mieu, 8, is a fourth-grader there.

"You can see how important it is at this age to do what your teachers tell you," said Trooper Newell, reminding students that Mieu had learned in kindergarten how important it is to buckle up.

Mieu clutched the plaque, posed for pictures and answered questions.

She said it wasn't hard to persuade her mother, aunt and sister to buckle their seat belts as they headed home from a visit to relatives in Reston, Va. But, as usual, she did have to remind them.

"My Dad wears his belt when he's on the Beltway," Mieu said. "But I still remind him. I just tell them to wear it. They'll be safer."

Mieu, who was strapped in the back seat of her sister's 1991 Toyota Camry, was not injured. Her mother, aunt and sister were seriously injured, but have recovered.

Trooper Newell, who is stationed in the Rockville barracks, said he was sure there were fatalities when he first came upon the crash shortly after it happened in the eastbound lanes of the Washington Beltway at River Road in Potomac.

What would have happened if everyone hadn't listened to Mieu and buckled up?

"Oh Lord, there would have been two people through the windshield, if not three," the trooper said. "When I got there, there were just two demolished cars."

The state police report said the Truong family was driving east on the Beltway as two other cars were vying for position on an outer lane.

Trooper Newell said the drivers were exchanging vulgar hand signals, when one of them lost control of a Honda Accord, swerved across the highway, spun around and slammed head on into the Truong's Camry. The Honda driver, Mark David Levin of Rockville, was wearing a seat belt and survived.

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