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Dad Dies Saving Daughter After Recalled Car Rolls into Pond

Two people with their hands placed on a casket at a funeral.

An Indianapolis father died last month saving his daughter after a parked car the girl was in rolled backwards and into a pond. The vehicle had been recalled for a defect related to faulty gearshifts.

Gear Shift Recall Provides Insight into How the Accident Occurred

According to the Indianapolis Star, 24-year-old Anthony Burgess dived into frigid waters on March 25 in an attempt to free his 3-year-old daughter from a vehicle that had rolled into an Indianapolis pond. While Burgess was able to save his daughter, he did not survive.

Investigators believe the girl somehow accidentally knocked the gear shift out of park, and a recall notice for the vehicle may provide insight into how the toddler was able to do that.

Typically, when a vehicle is place in park, the gear shift is supposed to stay in that position until the driver presses the brake and shifts gears. However, a 2014 recall notice for the vehicle involved in the tragic accident, a 2008 Pontiac G6, revealed that a circuit problem could allow the gear shift to inadvertently move out of park even if the brake is not pushed.

Public records show that the necessary repairs were never performed on the vehicle in question.

The vehicle did not belong to Burgess, his mother revealed, stating that the young man had barrowed the vehicle from a friend.

Recalled Cars Are Not Being Repaired

The death of Anthony Burgess illustrates a larger problem currently plaguing the United States: recalled vehicles are not being repaired. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that nearly a third of all vehicles on U.S. roads have been recalled and have not undergone repairs.

The NHTSA has attempted to address the issue of unrepaired recalled vehicles through a number of awareness campaigns and updates to its website and recall processes, but they have had little success.

While automakers are responsible for notifying car owners of recalls, problems can arise as cars get older. Newer cars are under warranty and receive regular maintenance, meaning owners are regularly in contact with dealers. When a car is brought in for a warrant repair or general maintenance, the dealer can address a recall that has been flagged for the vehicle.

As a car gets older and is sold from one owner to another, communication lapses occur, resulting in an awareness gap.

This is why 83 percent of newer vehicles are repaired while only 29 percent of vehicles more than 10-years-old are repaired.

What If I Am In an Accident and Find Out My Vehicle Was Defective?

Drivers have enough to worry about while traversing the roadways on a daily basis. When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, there is a reasonable expectation that the car is going to perform in a matter that would not put the operator’s life in jeopardy. Unfortunately there are hundreds of vehicle recalls each year due to manufacturer defects, from the tires to the ignition switches, that can cause catastrophic injuries and in some cases death. If you or a loved one have been injured due to a defective part in a vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry.

Our experienced defective vehicle lawyers have handled a multitude of injury claims caused by recalled vehicles. We continue to handle cases involving faulty and dangerous GM ignition switches and Takata airbags. Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Call us today for a free legal consultation — our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

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