The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 19, 2013

Mom wishes it was her in car, not baby who died


"I asked God for this baby," Luong said. "She was our gift from God."

The couple also opened their Homewood business about the same time of their daughter's birth, again choosing a biblical name. The long-awaited baby changed their lives. Though they were already active in their church, they became more so, to the point that Luong's husband started seminary.

"Our story is all about God," Luong said.

Both parents doted on the outgoing little girl. "She wouldn't even put her in daycare at church on Sundays," Hunyh said.

The Rev. Allan Murphy, senior pastor at North Shelby Baptist, agreed. "I can't explain what happened or why," Murphy said. "I do know they are loving parents who prayed to have a child and were careful in taking care of her."

"She was a conscientious mother and businesswoman," Murphy said.

On Wednesday, Luong put a sleeping Ella in her car seat and started the 10-mile drive to work. She was supposed to drop her off at the babysitter's house at 9:30 a.m.

But her mind was on overload - filled with thoughts and worries of a friend and employee who just recently hanged himself in a closet, only to be found there a week later. There was also concern for a close family friend, who is like a father to her, still hospitalized after having a stroke.

And in the midst of her worry and grief, she was planning Ella's first birthday party, set for Sunday at Oak Mountain State Park. It was too much, Luong admits.

"I had an uneasy feeling," she said. "I told my mom I felt like something was going to happen."

"She had too many things on her mind," Huynh said. "She was traumatized over her employee's death because she's never known anyone who has died, and there were so many people calling her yesterday about the birthday party."

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