• Feb 22, 2010
This Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on Toyota's recent recall woes entitled "Toyota Gas Pedals: Is the Public at Risk?" The committee released a full witness list today, which includes a number of people we were expecting to testify like Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, President and CEO of Toyota Motor North America Yoshimi Inaba and his boss, the President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda.

Along with representatives from a couple of consumer safety groups, there's one witness on the list who took us by surprise: Mrs. Fe Lastrella, a relative of four family members who perished late last August when off-duty California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor lost control of a loaner Lexus ES350 when it experienced sudden unintended acceleration. Mrs. Lastrella is the mother of Saylor's wife, Cleofe, and brother-in-law, Chris Lastrella, who were both killed in the accident. Lastrella's 13-year-old granddaughter Mahala also died in the accident.

The fatal crash was arguably the catalyst for Toyota's recent fall from grace, as it led to the first recall last October of 3.8 million vehicles for defective floor mats that could entrap accelerator pedals on certain models. That recall has since been expanded to 4.9 million vehicles and was followed by another recall in late January of 2.3 million Toyota vehicles with pedals that could also experience unintended acceleration in certain situations.

What effect will Mrs. Lastrella's testimony on Wednesday have on the hearing's outcome? The presence of a family member, a mother no less, who has been so devastatingly impacted by an accident involving a Toyota, will serve to put a human face on the question of whether or not the tragedy could have been prevented – and equally important, whether Toyota, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – or both – are to blame.

[Source: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Image: John Neff]



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  • 53 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, that is a big witness Mr. Toyoda will have to face. Her plus the memo that leaked out will be some serious pills they will have to swallow.
      • 4 Years Ago
      RIP Toyota.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tourian

        I think you mean Toyota will always be #1 in Japan. Why would any other Asian country favor a Japanese company over an American one. The top car companies in Korea are Korean and the top car companies in China are VW and GM.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah because the Ford Pinto and Exploder and cruise controls that burst into flames sunk Ford, and Bridgestone Firestone is gone, and Audi is gone, and Honda is dead because their airbags shoot shrapnel... And all the rest of the massive safety issues that carmakers have apparently not recovered from in the delusional little world in which you live.

        Yeah I'm sure this is totally the end for Toyota, because if you follow the pattern, that's where it leads. Idiot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The crying mother always gets attention and this is exactly the kind of attention that Toyota cannot afford. Women always listen to other women... call it the Oprah effect if you like. I hope Toyota has a plan b because plan a (taking over the U.S. auto industry) just failed miserably. Good by Toyota, you will not be missed.
      invisiblepigeon3
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tragic to be sure, but wasn't that ES350 with the RX floor mat shoved in it, the one that experienced the acceleration problem prior to this accident, the guy burned out the brakes stopping, and when he returned the car and told the dealership, they did NOTHING?

      I remember them putting mats upside down at the Lexus dealership here, to save the carpet. Now they don't have floor mats in the Loaner cars at all.

      It's very interesting how it went from being about the floor mats being the wrong size for the car and all that, to what it's become now. I wonder what the truth about all this actually is. There's too much at stake on both sides for me to belive much of anything that's being said.

      I suppose if my IS250 decided to downshift to 3rd and floor it up to 140mph I'd be less skeptical.

        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        "It's interesting how they're relating the ES350 accident to the rest of the recalls isn't it?"

        They are reviewing all of Toyotas miscues and recalls. Everything is getting examined. Nothing is going to be ignored. Toyota paid off someone to make sure only certain things were looked at to avoid recalls long ago, the hearings on Wednesday are not going to be about any cherry picking.

        You can't really be seriously thinking they'd just ignore the deaths of the Lexus family because you don't think its relevant? The American public thinks it is relevant, so does Congress. Nor more hiding, no more subterfuge for Toyota to rely on to keep their faces clean and perfect in the eyes of the public.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        People have been putting the wrong mats in all types of cars for years. This seems to be deadly more often then not in a Toyota product then any other car.
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        Coolio, we've got FOUR LEXUS!!!!!!!!! in total, none of which have accelerated out of control. None of the 4 Mercedes Benz we had did that either, but they rattled a lot, and had cheap leather. But then again I don't have 5 floor mats or water bottles or books or bricks or crumpled up McDonalds cups where the accelerator pedal is.

        If you're going to poke fun at me for driving a 2009 IS250, let's hear what you drive around in? Come on, you can tell us? Got a fart can Dodge Neon maybe? Something leased or financed at 23%? LOL







        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        That's a load of BS. There was an audio recording that the media could play to get ratings with this instance.

        I'm not defending their cheap ass pedals by saying that either. This is just an easy target for the media to play up and get people panicked into watching and doing exactly what everyone who's played into the hysteria is doing.

        I have 2 Lexus and my parents both drive Lexus. The floor mats are incredibly difficult to UNHOOK from the clips. If you want to take the damn mats out to shampoo them you practically have to break your thumbs pushing to get them to unhook!

        If people misuse a lawnmower they can chop off their hand. Cars are much bigger and more powerful, but people have utter disregard for that fact. People text and drive and eat and put on makeup and don't pay attention to driving at all. People neglect their cars, never paying attention to preventitive maintenence and waiting until the car is unsafe before acting.

        How many thousands are killed every year because of that sort of thing? There's no audio tape and no conspiracy theory to play along to though. It's interesting how they're relating the ES350 accident to the rest of the recalls isn't it?

        If Toyota cut corners and lied about it, I want a piece of the money paid for the cars I've got back in my pocket, and I'll take my business elsewhere, but clouding the facts with media hysterics doesn't do any good for people who drive Toyota products and want justice for themselves.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        Good luck with that, thedude. BMWs are not short on rattles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        @Jeff

        I don't expect it to be rattle free, just less than what I have now which is reasonable considering my past experience with BMW. The free maintenance will be nice again too considering my stock brake pads gave out at 15k and the Lexus dealerships try and rape you for every oil change.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @invisiblepigeon3
        Here that fellas ? Ole' Bird Brain drives a LEXUS !!!!!

        It's amazing how much money you can save by living in Mom and "Uncle Dad's" basement.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It was a sad thing to happen with the death of the family. He was A CHP, are they suppose to be trained drivers? A basic thing to do when a car accellerates on its own is to put the car in neutral. It happened to me along time ago to me when I was in Ca. with my sisters MB SL, it was a cable controled cruise system and one of the springs came off and the car started to accellerate on its own I tried to stop it, it wouldn't slow down so I put the car in neutral (that is the N indicater) and carefully got to the side of road, yes the engine was reving and then I turned it off. If the engine broke so what at least you can live for another day. Cars can malfunction, be prepared to act to save your life and others. mop
        invisiblepigeon3
        • 4 Years Ago
        You must have missed the test in which it was PROVEN and measured that a Camry(same brakes as the ES350) could stop at WOT faster than a brand new Ford Taurus with NO throttle!

        And you don't press it twice to shut it off, you press and hold it to turn the car off. Stop spreading your ignorance.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Hey John, the trooper tried to do just that if I recall, AND tried to turn off the car, and it wouldn't turn off. Plus, its been discussed at length here, that with the car going wide-open throttle, the braking system couldn't work to slow it down. Something to do with boost assist (I can't recall the exact reason). But he tried everything to stop it and it wouldn't stop. The car has a push-button start/stop and on that Lexus, you have to press it 2 times to shut off the car. He did all he could but it wasn't enough.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Will they be showing it live on TV?
      • 4 Years Ago
      This can be tremendously ugly for Toyota.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In related news, Toyota just announced the sale of their Mississippi, Indiana and Texas Plants to Hyundai. Film at eleven.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And the V8 engine plant in Alabama. I imagine all American only products like the slow selling Tundra and Sequoia will be among the first casualties.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What I don't understand is why these people don't/didn't just put the car into neutral?

      No system, no car is perfect and when you get behind the wheel you had better understand how it's basic systems work and what to do if something fails. Just like NASA trains it's astronauts to do. We have accepted driving as something so common now we fail to do the little things or learn what to do in an emergency.

      Sad really.
      • 4 Years Ago
      News & other medias are going to have a field day with this lady's "testimony".
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tears worked on tiger's favour, most likely it will for the Lastrella family, and I don't think Toyota will survive this blow. But, the car was a hired car and the floor mat was modified. Even if the cause of the acceleration was caused by something else, the car that her family is in cannot represent the car bought by the millions of general public. If anything, I think it would be better to replace her with a victim who actually drives an unmodified car, and a car that the victim actually owned. Good luck Toyota on this, I'll still be buying their cars because of their overall track record & quality, but I'd like to see how they represent themselves in front of the media, and how the media handles this news.
        • 4 Years Ago
        so you're expecting crying contest?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Ya know, come to think of it, I've had (or know someone who's had) an accident in a Toyota too! My God, how could we have been so blind!"
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