Mussarat Chaudhary, 58, Dies After Her Toyota Plunges Into River
California Highway Patrol released the 911 call; she said her brakes were not working
The family of a woman whose car plunged into the Sacramento River in California say they believe a defect in the 2009 Toyota Camry could be at fault for the crash.
On the morning of March 13, Mussarat Chaudhary was on her way to work when she called her daughter to complain that the brakes weren't working correctly and that she was having trouble controlling the car, according to The Sacramento Bee. She called 911 a few minutes later, but reverted to her native language, Punjabi, so the 911 operator had difficulty helping her with the problem.
Within minutes, a translator was connected. She listened as Chaudhary struggled while the car filled up with water. Chaudhary was heard pounding on the windows. The translator sadly reported that Chaudhary became exhausted and couldn't get out.
The 2009 Toyota Camry was part of Toyota's massive 2009/2010 recalls for sudden acceleration issues -- in other words, problems when cars accelerate on their own or won't stop when the driver wants the car to stop. The company blamed floormats and sticky accelerator pedals for the problems. In December, it agreed to pay $1.3 billion to settle lawsuits over sudden acceleration problems.
The crash that started the crisis also occurred in California. Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer lost control of the Lexus he was driving, which was loaned to him by a dealership while they fixed his car. 911 tapes released told the sad tale as his brother-in-law complained that the car was out of control. The final words on the tape were: "Pray."
Saylor, his brother-in-law Christ Lastrella, Saylor's wife and his daughter all died in the crash.
Toyota decline to comment on the Chaudhary case.
Earlier this month, legal magazine ALM's Corporate Counsel wrote an in-depth article on the sudden acceleration cases, pointing out that some experts think the cases are far from over. Researchers at NASA are still worried that the problems could be caused by hidden electronics problems.
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