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Monday, May 28, 2012

San Jose woman killed in big rig crash remembered for family devotion

 Chiều tối Thứ Tư 23/5/2012, mẹ ( Bà Huỳnh thị Thu Hiếu ) dự lễ con gái tốt nghiệp Trung Học  tại trưòng Independence High Shool. Sáng hôm sau, Thứ năm 24/5/2012, con gái chở mẹ tới trường lãnh bằng tốt nghiệp ( diploma ) bi một xe tải chở đầy rau Broccoli, tài xế lái quá nhanh , bị lật , đè lên xe nhỏ . Người mẹ chết tại chỗ.   Người con gái không bị thương tích gì hết

San Jose woman killed in big rig crash remembered for family devotion

By Robert Salonga

rsalonga@mercurynews.com

Posted:   05/25/2012 04:48:41 PM PDT

Updated:   05/25/2012 10:57:27 PM PDT

 

 Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San Jose

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Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San Jose

Hieu Thi Thu Huynh (Family photo)

  • Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San Jose
  • Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San Jose
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  • Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San<br /> Jose

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  • Woman killed in big rig crash on I-680 in San Jose

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One of the few comforting thoughts relatives have about the loss of Hieu Thi Thu Huynh is that she died doing what she always did: Protecting and doting on her family.

The 49-year-old San Jose resident was still beaming with pride when she got into the family car Thursday morning, fresh from attending daughter Van Nguyen's graduation from Independence High School the previous night. Van was driving them to campus to pick up her diploma.

But that trip ended in a horrific accident that killed Huynh instantly.

Nguyen Nguyen, Huynh's older daughter, said her younger sister and their mother were taking the same route to Independence as they had countless times before: Northbound Interstate 680, exit McKee Road.

Van told Nguyen that she took the offramp like usual but saw a truck coming, so she tapped the brakes to create some space. Van didn't see the rig tipping over, but her mother did. She told Van to veer left. Just as Van was turning, the trailer filled with broccoli crashed down on top of the passenger side of the Camry.

It was a final parental sacrifice in the life of a woman who did whatever she could for her family.

"Because of that, my sister left without a scratch," said Nguyen Nguyen, 21, a senior at UC Berkeley.

The rig driver was likely going too fast to change course, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Upon hearing about her death, the Vietnamese immigrant's relatives came from all corners


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of the state to gather at her San Jose home and console her husband and children.

They shared memories of the beautician's knack for taking up hobbies and getting so into them she would burn out on one pastime, find another, and start the cycle anew. There was a cooking bug that morphed into knitting and then crocheting.

"She made blankets nonstop, and we don't know what to do with them," Nguyen remembered with a smile, adding that gardening and juicing were her latest pursuits.

The stories didn't go very long without some mention of Huynh's devotion to her family, as evidenced by her to-do list from her last day alive: pick up Van's diploma, drop off lunch at the workplace of engineer husband Phi Nguyen, then give her oldest daughter a ride back to the Berkeley campus.

"She was always very protective of me and my sister," Nguyen said.

Huynh emigrated with her family from her native Vietnam to pursue the American dream, and by all accounts had succeeded, relatives say. She had a thriving livelihood as a beautician. Her husband, whom she first met when they were neighbors in their home village along the central Vietnamese coast, carved out a career as an optics engineer. Together they sent a daughter to Berkeley and were about to send their youngest to UC Davis.

"She would say that it was OK that she worked hard because she had to take care of us, and that we could in turn take care of her when we were grown and successful," Nguyen said.

They continue to remember the little things. Her husband hated eating alone and often found himself coming home from work long after dinner had cooled, so she sat with him even though she had already eaten. When Nguyen went to college, the family got Misu, their now 2-year-old Chow Chow, who filled in the tight-knit girl trio with Van and their mother.

On that tragic Thursday morning, the once-inseparable were separated forever. But in the midst of heartache, they're trying to take a cue from the person defined by her will to turn hardship into happiness.

"We all really miss her, but my sister kept saying in tears that we have to let her go because she has done her job," Nguyen said. "She was a good mom, wife, aunt and daughter, and now she can rest in peace."

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.

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