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NHTSA Links Defective Ignition Switch to 2006 Crash

Destiny Baker3 years ago

Families continue to come forward, sharing stories of how they lost loved ones due to a dangerous defect found in some General Motors (GM) vehicles as the auto maker recalls roughly 1.6 million vehicles.

Two Died in Auto Accident Lined to Defective Ignition Switch

“I’d go to work every day, smile and then I’d get in my car to go home and start bawling. I have been at terms with it for a long time. I’ve been OK, but now this comes.” – Doug Weigel as published by the Detroit Free Press

Natasha Weigel, 18, and Amy Rademaker, 15, both died in 2006 after the car they were traveling in suddenly lost power and crashed into trees along a rural Wisconsin road.

While Amy was pronounced dead within a few hours of the crash, Natasha remained in a coma for 11 days before finally succumbing to her injuries. Her family remained by her side until she passed.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash-investigation team determined that at 7:55 pm, the vehicle carrying Natasha and Amy veered of the road at 71 mph before vaulting of a driveway, flying 59 feet and traveling into a grove of trees at 55 mph.

By 2007, the NHTSA completed their analysis of the car’s data recorder and had determined that the ignition switch had shifted out of the “run” position and into the “accessory” position. They also reported that the vehicles air bags had failed to deploy.

GM Knew of the Issue Prior to Fatal Accidents

Court depositions suggest that a GM engineer experienced the same problem blamed for the deaths of Natasha and Amy back in 2004 while test driving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Engineers were soon able to determine that simple jarring events like a rough road or a heavy key ring could result in the engine losing power, cutting of multiple safety features such as power steering, power brakes and even air bags.

Further, while engineers proposed several possible solutions to the problem, GM never adopted any of the fixes and the car ultimately went on sale with the faulty switch still included.

It was not until this past February, after 11 more confirmed deaths and reports of 33 frontal collisions in which airbags failed to deploy, that GM finally enacted a recall of two affected models. Within a few days, the recall was expanded to include 5 additional models.

Currently the recall includes:

  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2007 Pontiac G5
  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2006-2007 Saturn Sky

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