Laura Lamb, the 6-year-old girl whose complete paralysis after a head-on car crash with a drunk driver when she was an infant spurred her mother to found the Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, died last night at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Dr. Frank Gioia said the girl had been living at home with her mother, Cindi Lamb Manns, in Edgemere, Md., until she was brought to the hospital last Saturday after suffering severe seizures. She died of complications resulting from the seizures, hospital officials said.
The Maryland chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which Cindi Lamb Manns went on to found, was credited with helping persuade the legislature to raise the state's drinking age from 18 to 21.
Laura was described by her doctors as a wispy girl with thick light-brown hair, who was fond of singing and of rock 'n' roll music although confined to a wheelchair. She was dependent on an apparatus to aid her breathing and had suffered bouts of prolonged epileptic seizures and damage to her nervous system as a result of the accident Nov. 10, 1979.
Cindi Lamb Manns was taking her 6-month-old daughter to a grocery near Frederick, Md., when the collision occurred.
Months later, Laura's mother cradled the child in her arms and broke into tears while testifying before a Maryland legislative hearing.
"I remember the last time Laura felt a hug. I remember the last time Laura moved her fingers and her hands and feet and legs. Now she doesn't feel any kisses, doesn't feel any hugs, doesn't feel anything," she testified.
Bill Bronrott, a spokesman for Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.), said last night Laura Lamb was the "spark" that led to tougher enforcement and increased public awareness of the drunk driving problem.
Gioia called her "the kind of child who was very lovable, very outgoing, and it was very easy to become attached to her. The daughter took after her mother; they were very much alike."