An innocent trip to the movies turned into a harrowing life or death incident for 9-year-old Melina Lakey when their SUV landed on its roof after clipping a drainage ditch and rolling over six times. Her father Jeff Lakey, who was driving, quickly pulled his daughter from the vehicle to safety. Melina immediately realized something was wrong and ran back to help her mother, McCollum-Lakey, who was stuck in the passenger seat.

McCollum-Lakey recounted that “When the airbags deploy you can’t see any of the doors, so she lifted them up so I could find my way out. She said, ‘Mommy I’m right here. Come to me.’ She lifted up five impact airbags to get me out, through glass and debris.”

“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, a Girl Scout from Pendleton, Indiana, was given the Medal of Honor by the Girl Scouts of the USA. The award is one of two Lifesaving Awards they give out for “saving life or attempting to save life without risk to the candidate’s own life.”

“It felt really good,” Melina shared. “It felt like everybody cared.”

Melina was only 8 at the time of the accident, but knew exactly what to do, calling 911 with her parents’ cellphone. It just so happened that she and her mom, who also is her troop leader, had just spent the entire day at a local fire department learning first aid skills and proper safety measures during emergencies.

“They said that if you’re ever in a big accident, always call 911,” Melina said. “Even though you think [an accident] is not going to happen to you, it still will. They taught me everything I needed.”

Melina 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. “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.”

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