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Fatal Michigan Accident Linked to Chrysler Recall

Destiny Baker2 years ago

A pregnant woman from Michigan was killed last November when her Jeep Liberty was rear-ended and burst into flames. 

Description of the Crash

According to Associated Press, 23-year-old restaurant hostess Kayla White was killed when her 2003 Jeep Liberty was struck from behind near Telegraph Road, causing it to overturn and catch fire. An autopsy determined the cause of death was burns and smoke inhalation.

The speed of the initial impact involving White's death is unknown, but was enough to cause the two cars in front of her to be impacted and cause thousands of dollars in damages to the car at the front of the line. 

Clarence Quentin Heath was unable to stop his 2002 Cadillac STS as traffic slowed in the northbound right lane on the Lodge. The 69-year-old Beverly Hills resident could potentially face charges. The Cadillac collided with White's SUV, forcing it into a 2014 Nissan Cube, which then struck a 2015 Lincoln MKC as it slowed for traffic.

The other drivers involved did not report any injuries.

About the Chrysler Recall

White's SUV was part of a major Chrysler recall campaign last year of 1.56 million 2002-07 Jeep Libertys and 1993-2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees at risk of catching fire when struck from behind. After a thorough investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that the defect was connected to 37 fatal rear-end collisions resulting in 51 deaths, including at least five fatal crashes involving Libertys that resulted in seven deaths. 

Gas tanks on the older Jeeps are located below the rear bumper and behind the rear axle, and can rupture and leak gasoline if the SUVs are rear-ended. The solution that the NHTSA called for involves the installation of a trailer hitch to protect the gas tank. However, the agency acknowledged that trailer hitches will not offer much protection in high-speed crashes.

Hitches provide incremental safety benefits in certain low and moderate-speed crashes. Chrysler stated that the fix would not address high-speed crashes in which most of the reported deaths have occurred. Chrysler, following a letter from NHTSA, notified federal regulators that the company is not satisfied with the repair rates for recall of the nearly 1.6 million SUVs and will step up efforts to convince owners to get them fixed.


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