• Nov 16, 2010
Paul Vanalfen's crashed Toyota Camry – Click above for high-res image gallery

A new incident involving a 2008 Toyota Camry is raising concerns about unintended acceleration once again. On November 5, 66-year-old Paul Vanalfen was exiting Interstate 80 in Utah when his vehicle drove through a stop sign and struck a rock embankment, killing Vanalfen and his son's 38 year-old fiance Charlene Lloyd at the same time. Vanalfen's son and wife were also injured in the accident. Early reports indicate that the Camry may have continued to accelerate, even as Vanalfen did his best to stop the vehicle. Skid marks at the scene indicate that this isn't a case of pedal misapplication, leaving investigators to conclude that a malfunction may have caused the incident.

Vanalfen's Camry was the subject of a total of three recalls, and at this point, it's unclear whether or not the Toyota had undergone the repairs.

Toyota, meanwhile, says that it's too early to draw any conclusions about the cause of the incident, and that it's assisting Utah Highway Patrol investigators any way it can. Click past the jump to read the company's statement.



[Sources: AP via MSNBC, Toyota | Image: AP/Utah Highway Patrol]
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Statement on Wendover, Utah Accident

Several recent news reports have speculated on the causes of a fatal crash in Wendover, Utah that remains under investigation by local authorities. Toyota sympathizes with the friends and family of Paul VanAlfen and Charlene Lloyd, who were killed in the crash, and is working closely to support the Utah Highway Patrol with its accident investigation.

As with any such a case, it is important to allow the investigation to proceed before drawing any conclusions. Over the past year, on multiple occasions the initial reports on incidents involving Toyota vehicles have involved speculation and premature conclusions that proved to be inaccurate following a review of the facts.

It is in the best interests of all those involved in this case to ensure a thorough and complete review of the incident. Toyota remains committed to investigating reported incidents of unintended acceleration in our vehicles quickly, and will continue to work in close partnership with law enforcement agencies and federal regulators with jurisdiction over accident scenes whenever requested.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 108 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      66 year old man... bet its just a case of him stepping on the gas instead of the brake.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota's Own Drivers Were Behind the Wheel in Sudden Acceleration Cases, Court Filing Says

      http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/toyotas-drivers-wheel-sudden-acceleration-cases-court-filing/story?id=11974250
      • 4 Years Ago
      Recall or not... I think I would be more concerned about how someone, let alone two people died in this incident.

      To me, the crash does not look like the cabin of the vehicle was compromised much at all, were the passengers not wearing seatbelts or what?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I worked for a Toyota dealer during the recalls and one of them was a computer flash that would make the engine go to idle if the brake and accelerator were applied at the same time. Either the recalls weren't done or he wasn't stepping on the brake.
      • 4 Years Ago
      66 year old man + highway = bad combination.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Seriously people, stop driving these.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Save the world. Drive new Fords.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Seems strange that this was fatal! The structure looks intact.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tourian: The damage shows that the impact was substantial enough to deform the safety cage to the B-pillar.

        The intrusion into the footwell suggests that the belted front seat passengers probably suffered leg injuries.

        The unbelted rear passengers bodies would have suffered far worse in their uncontrolled deceleration on impact.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm thinking restraints were not good at slowing down bodily forces, or restraints weren't even used.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks, viktor. Once again, no seatbelts = no survival.

        People really ought to get this into their heads, because seatbelts really do work if you'd just take the 2 seconds to wear them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's the passenger side you're looking at, along with the rear of the car, from the B-pillar back.

        Go click on the second picture. The driver side is collapsed, and looks really bad. Major deformation of the A-pillar and roof to the B-pillar. Major intrusion of the footwell.

        Then go take a second look at the passenger side - the wheel is pushed back, evidence of failure in the footwell.

        As I see it, the Camry looks like it hit the rock wall head-on. Probably the deaths are due to the instantaenous deceleration of the vehicle, rather than a more survivable series of "bouncing" impacts progressively slowing the car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Croft said both VanAlfen and his wife, Shirlene, 61, who was in the front seat, were wearing seat belts, while his son, Cameron, 34, of Clinton, and his son's fiance, Charlene Lloyd, of West Haven, were not restrained in the back seat."

        Reference:

        http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700079098/Accident-kills-one-injures-three-at-Utah-Nevada-border.html

        (BTW, is that like the mormon newspaper; or something?)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ John H.

        I think you got it backwards. The people in front WERE wearing belts and died, the people in back were NOT wearing belts and lived. At least that's what I gathered from Viktor's post.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't know, looks like the low front-end of the car is completely caved in, and that lower dash intruded significantly into the passenger area. Could be enough to cause enough fatal lower-torso damage. I think it looks more intact due to the odd angle that the force was applied, so that the hood looks more or less OK while the entire lower-front of the car is completely crushed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Since the rear seat passengers were not wearing their seat belts, the forces on the front passengers were probably increased due to the rear passengers' impacts with the front seats, which pushed the front passengers into the locked front seat belts.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What ever the case may have been, those last few seconds of their lives was probably a traumatic experience for both of them. What a way to go. At least it ended fairly quickly for them.

        May they rest in peace. :(
        • 4 Years Ago
        Okay, whoops, had to read it again.

        The older couple, in their 60's were sitting up front and wearing their seatbelts. The man, who was driving, died on the scene. His wife is still in the hospital in fair condition.

        The young couple, in their 30's, were in the back - NOT wearing seatbelts. The young man lived, his fiance is dead.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Since the rear seat passengers were not wearing their seat belts, the forces on the front passengers were probably increased due to the rear passengers' impacts with the front seats, which pushed the front passengers into the locked front seat belts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      people love their toyotas!
      rjander03
      • 4 Years Ago
      Need to get these old folks tested before they're allowed behind the wheel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's a tragedy that these people died, but some VERY basic driver training could have stopped most all of the deaths involved with defects in Toyota vehicles. It takes all of half a second to pop the car into neutral. Same with turning the engine off. Almost every car these days can overpower its engine if people would just brake as hard as they can.

      If people would take 20 minutes to actually learn about their cars a lot less people would have died.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bhtooefr: I believe those people who have stated such are talking out their asses. I have never seen nor heard of a vehicle with an automatic transmission that is incapable of shifting into neutral under load.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not taking sides or laying blame on either side, but I just wanted to point out that Toyotas are sold all over the planet.

      Is it just Americans who are experiencing these "unintended acceleration" events?

      I haven't done the research, so I don't know. Does anyone know?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I read a link of a story in Japan that dirvers were complaining there of the same thing. What's important to note is that the gas pedal used in Japan market Camry's is made by Denso. The pedal recall in NA was for pedals supplied by CTS an American company which uses a different type of pedal than what Denso uses. Toyota maintained that only the CTS pedals were at fault. Toyota does own a part of Denso. Sorry I don't have the link any more (I think it was from a British newspaper). If the Japan market Camry's have similar problems than it means something else is the problem, not the pedals. If not and all the incidents here involve senior citizens then it's not Toyota's fault, except that they should consider design changes to their cars since so many seniors now buy them.
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