Last April Melina Lakey was riding home from a movie with her parents when their SUV clipped a drainage ditch and rolled over six times, landing on its roof.
The 9-year-old was pulled to safety by her dad, Jeff Lakey, who was driving. When Melina saw that her mom, Ashley McCollum-Lakey, was stuck in the passenger seat, she ran back to help.
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“When the airbags deploy you can’t see any of the doors, so she lifted them up so I could find my way out,” McCollum-Lakey told ABC News. “She said, ‘Mommy I’m right here. Come to me.’”
She continued, “She lifted up five impact airbags to get me out, through glass and debris.”
Girl Scouts of Central IndianaThe totaled car belonging to Ashley McCollum-Lakey and Jeff Lakey is pictured after their April 2017 car accident.
Melina, a Girl Scout from Pendleton, Indiana, was honored Thursday for her heroism by the Girl Scouts of the USA.
She received the Medal of Honor, one of two Lifesaving Awards given by the Girl Scouts for “saving life or attempting to save life without risk to the candidate’s own life.”
The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, the 45-county council that represents Melina’s troop, has awarded only one other Lifesaving Award in the past decade, according to a council spokeswoman.
“It felt really good,” Melina, a fourth grader who has been a Girl Scout for the past five years, told ABC News. “It felt like everybody cared.”
Melina, who was 8 at the time of the accident, took control after rescuing her mom by calling 911 on her parents’ cellphone. She and her mom, who is her troop leader, had spent that April day at a local fire department with fellow Girl Scouts learning first aid skills and what to do in an emergency.
Girl Scouts of Central IndianaAlexandria, Indiana, Fire Chief Brian Cuneo poses with Melina Lakey, 9, and her parents, Ashley McCollum-Lakey and Jeff Lakey.
“They said that if you’re ever in a big accident, always call 911,” Melina said.
She added, “Even though you think [an accident] is not going to happen to you, it still will. They taught me everything I needed.”
Melina and her dad escaped the accident with no injuries. McCollum-Lakey suffered a shoulder injury and some bruising but credits her daughter with saving her life.
“Melina didn’t think twice,” she said. “She knew there was glass and debris and she just wanted to make sure that she knew mommy and daddy were OK.”
Melina, whose favorite Girl Scout activity is hiking, also received a congratulatory letter from Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo.
“Your extraordinary courage, incredible confidence, and your willingness to take decisive action in the midst of an emergency has not only saved a life, but also serves as a shining example for Girl Scouts everywhere of fortitude and dedication,” the letter read in part. “Your heroism and sound judgment have earned you a place in the pantheon of heroes who have come before you, and left an indelible mark on the Girl Scouts.”