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.
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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.