The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 19, 2013

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

(Continued)

"She was on the phone the whole time, and she said that cost her her baby's life," Huynh said. "She blames herself."

Unaware that she had left the baby inside the SUV, Luong went on with her day at work. When she arrived at the salon, she and her husband watched video on her cell phone from Ella dancing at their home the night before. "Music and dance was her passion," Luong said.

It was about 1:15 p.m. when the babysitter called, and asked Luong if Ella was sick and that was why she hadn't shown up. It was then that the frantic parents realized what happened and found Ella unconscious in her car seat. "I want you to tell everybody I wish I was in that car seat," Luong said.

Instead of throwing the best-ever birthday party Sunday, the parents will bury their only child. The grieving mother said she can't even comprehend a life without Ella. She prays her faith will sustain her. "Without God, I am nothing," she said.

Pastor Murphy knows her pain, to some extent. His own daughter drowned 14 years ago while on a mission trip in Mexico. "I know what it's like for a child to die," Murphy said. "Little Ella is with the Lord in Heaven."

Murphy said no one can undo what happened Wednesday. "There's no rewind, it's not a dream," he said. "It's reality."

"She's beating herself up about it and I can't take that away either," the pastor said. "There was certainly no malice."

Murphy, friends and family are praying for understanding. "When you hear just a few details, you can judge quickly but it's different when you know someone's heart and hear their hurt," he said. "It was a tragic thing that happened. A human tragedy."

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