NBC Action News has reported that a Toyota SUV accelerated out of control at a car wash in Grandview, Missouri, killing 40-year-old Rosland Watson.
The Grandview, Missouri crash comes on the heels of more than 2,100 separate Toyota sudden acceleration reports and several deaths and serious injuries. Toyota issued a massive recall in order to finally attempt to repair this problem after ignoring the issue for more than five years.
GRANDVIEW, Mo. – One woman is dead and another in critical condition after a tragic accident Thursday in Grandview.
One of the women, 40-year-old Rosland Watson of Kansas City, Mo., was pronounced dead upon arrival to an area hospital.
The other, a 66-year-old Kansas City woman, suffered a broken leg in four places and was listed Friday in stable condition.
Police say the driver of the SUV was pulling forward when it was preparing to leave and accelerated, “rapidly hitting the curb.” Investigators say the driver, who has been cooperative with the investigation, may have had his gas pedal stick or some other sort of malfunction.
"From what witnesses are saying, it all happened so… just immediate, with no warning. Especially since they were sitting down, I don’t think they may have even known what was coming or any idea what was happening," said Sgt. Joe McKinstry of the Grandview Police Department.
The driver is a 66-year-old man. There is no word yet on charges, although police say he is cooperating fully and is pretty distraught.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Toyota "kept a tight lid on disclosure of potential problems and attempted to blame human error in cases where owners claimed vehicle defects. Toyota has come under scrutiny from safety experts — and even federal safety regulators, who called Toyota’s public statements about the accelerator defect "inaccurate and misleading".
Independent safety expert, Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies, has identified more than 2,100 sudden acceleration events. There are currently at least 10 lawsuits pending involving Toyota sudden acceleration claims, with two of those lawsuits seeking certification as a class action lawsuit.
Even though Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem only recently came to the public’s attention, Toyota has been quietly making sudden acceleration recalls for nearly a decade.
- Two years ago, a NHTSA investigation found that Camry and Lexus ES gas pedals could be trapped by rubber all-weather floor mats (the same problem addressed by the current recall). Toyota recalled 55,000 vehicles, but its only repair was place a warning label on the underside of the mat.
- In 2005, Toyota recalled more than 3,500 Lexus IS 250 vehicles because the gas pedal was likely to stick on a floor pad.
- In 2006, Toyota recalled more than 360,000 Highlander and Lexus RX SUVs after complaints that an interior cover could interfere with the accelerator pedal.
- In 2003, Toyota recalled 408 Toyota Celicas in Canada because of floor mat interference with the accelerator pedal.
- Toyota has an ongoing Sienna recall to replace a hard plastic trim panel over the center consoles that could cause accelerator pedal entrapment. This Sienna recall came long after Toyota discovered the problem.
Toyota has a history of delaying the recall a safety defect until long after it had discovered the problem.
Some motorists who have confronted Toyota about safety issues say that Toyota has hidden information from them.
In January, Jeffrey Pepski, a financial consultant in suburban Minneapolis, took his 2007 Lexus ES 350 to the dealer after it accelerated out of control on a Twin Cities freeway, reaching 80 miles per hour.
Toyota sent an expert to examine the car Feb. 3 and download electronic data stored on the vehicle’s computers. When Pepski asked for a copy of the data, he was refused.
"They said it was proprietary," Pepski recalled.
He filed a defect petition with NHTSA, and the dealer allowed Pepski to trade in the sedan for a sport utility vehicle. The Lexus ES was not branded a lemon and was resold in Minnesota, records show.
How Toyota handles requests like Pepski’s has frustrated investigators and vehicle owners who want to get information contained on computers in their vehicles.
I have been chronicling Toyota’s many ongoing problems here for months. I continue to be appalled by Toyota’s conduct.
Toyota denied there was any accelerator problem for more than five years. Even after a documented sudden acceleration crash that killed four people, Toyota continued to make "inaccurate and misleading" statements about its accelerator defect.
Toyota finally (but reluctantly) acknowledged the problem and issued a massive recall of its vehicles. However, many independent safety experts said Toyota’s recall did not go far enough. Even Time magazine said Toyota’s recall was not sufficient and would not end the sudden acceleration problem. Consumer Reports found that Toyota had far more sudden acceleration events than any other automaker. Sean Kane — an independent safety expert with Safety Research & Strategies — has identified more than 2,100 separate Toyota sudden acceleration events.
Until Toyota finally creates a solution that actually fixes the problem, all Toyota drivers must be prepared. You can learn how to stop your vehicle if it experiences the sudden acceleration problem at this post.
You can learn more about the Toyota sudden acceleration defect by reading these previous reports of Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem:
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Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.