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Families Suing GM Because Recall Comes Too Late

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New York, NYFurther to a recent massive General Motors recall involving certain model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles, at least one family who lost a child as a result of the defect is suing GM.

The recall involves over 748,024 model year 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice vehicles and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion vehicles and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles. But GM’s actions are eight years too late for Doug Weigel who lost his teenage daughter as a result of a related car accident. In 2006, 18-year old Natasha Weigel and her friend, Amy Rademaker,15, were riding in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, one of GM’s recently recalled vehicles, when the car suddenly lost power and crashed into trees on a rural Wisconsin road. Amy died nearly five hours after the accident, but Natasha lay in a coma for 11 days before dying.

"I'd go to work every day, smile and then I'd get in my car to go home and start bawling," Weigel told USA Today. At the time of his daughter's death he was in the Army and months away from deployment. "I have been at terms with it for a long time. I've been OK, but now this comes."

The defect that’s prompted the recall involves allegedly faulty ignition switches that can suddenly turn the engine off and disable the airbags. According to USA Today.com this defect has so far killed 13 people and caused 31 crashes. Adding insult to injury, GM has reportedly known of the defect since 2004, but failed to initiate a recall until February 2014, a full decade later.

With the Weigel accident, a crash-investigation team was commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who wanted specifics. They found that at 7:55 p.m., the Cobalt veered off the road doing 71 mph, vaulted a driveway and flew 59 feet before clipping a utility box on the ground and slamming into a grove of trees at about 55 mph, USA Today reports.

Then, in 2007, the investigators reported that, according to the car's data recorder, the ignition switch was in the "accessory" position instead of "run," and the front airbags didn't deploy. It also noted that there were several complaints in NHTSA's database about ignition switch problems.

Prior to GM issuing the February recall, the automaker had maintained that the cars involved were safe because they could be steered and stopped. But for some families this remains to be proven and for anyone whose lost a loved one, like the Weigels, the recall comes too late.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
Friday 11/21/2014 my 2007 Chevy cobalt lost steering and braking i slammed into a guard rail at 65 mph my airbags failed to deploy luckily i only sustained minor injuries. On sat 11/22/2014 I received the recall letter in my mail. And to add insult to injury I received a ticket for failing to control the vehicle which I intend to fight.

Posted by

on
I'd just like to say that the car was not going 71 mph. I saw another article that said the same. They were going the speed limit for the road that they were on. They clipped a green utility box before hitting the tree. The key was found in the accessory position instead of the run position. The steering, braking, and airbag systems therefore did not work as they had no power to them.
Also, the car entered the ditch and crashed at 7:55pm, October 24th, 2006. That is correct. What is not correct is that Amy lived for 5 more hours. Her date of death is the same as the date of the accident. She did not make it to midnight or later. She survived on life support for just over 3 hours. Please do your homework before submitting your story.

Doug, I have not met you, but I am so so sorry for your loss. I kept checking every CaringBridge post and praying and crying for her and her family. Natasha was an amazing girl and I am glad to have had the privilege of meeting her. May our girls finally get the justice they deserve and let our healing begin...again...

Thank you,
Sarah Grutt
Amy Rademaker's eldest sister

Posted by

on
Why hang safety entirely on an ignition switch?
GM and other car companies should delay the time between the ignition switch shut off and the cutoff of power to the steering, the brakes, the airbags and the entire electronic monitoring system.
Moreover, if the car is moving, power cutoff time should be delayed further to give the driver a chance to safely pull off the road -- or turn the ignition back on.
Electric powered systems are safe and the way of the future.
And they don't need to be shut off as soon as the ignition goes off.
What's the hurry, anyway?

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