Fatalities put focus on safety


Howard County police say two children killed after their mother's car veered off an East Columbia road and slammed into a tree Saturday might have lived if they had been properly fastened into safety seats.

While the cause of the afternoon accident still is undetermined, the fatal crash has prompted a child safety group and traffic investigators to plan a public demonstration at police headquarters tomorrow on the proper way to secure children in vehicles.

The demonstration will take place at 11:30 a.m. at 3410 Courthouse Drive in Ellicott City.

"It's a tragic situation," said Sgt. Steve Keller, a Howard County police spokesman. "We want to get out an awareness about the problem so hopefully there won't be a repeat of this accident."

Hannah Choe, 2, and her brother, Michael Choe, 7 months, were pronounced dead at the pediatric unit of Johns Hopkins Hospital during the weekend.

According to police, Hannah was only secured in a rear lap belt in the center of the back seat. Police said state law requires any child younger than 4 or under 40 pounds to be secured in a child safety seat.

Michael, police say, was in a child safety seat in the right rear of the vehicle, but the seat was not fastened properly by a safety seat lock.

Police did not decide whether the children's mother, Mee Choe, 28, would face charges. Mrs. Choe of the 8600 block of Wheatfield Way in Ellicott City was listed in serious condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore last night.

The woman's Mercury Sable swerved off Thunder Hill Road in Columbia's Oakland Mills Village and struck a tree at 12:25 p.m. Saturday.

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