A woman in Texas is celebrating a cleared criminal record after being exonerated in a fatal crash now linked to General Motors' faulty ignition switches. Candice Anderson was driving a Saturn Ion in 2004 when she struck a tree. The incident injured her and killed her boyfriend in the front passenger seat. When investigators found no skid marks or signs of evasion and a small amount of Xanax in her system, Anderson was indicted on a charge of intoxicated manslaughter and eventually pleaded guilty
Natasha Weigel was in the backseat of a Chevrolet Cobalt that crashed in 2006, and she tragically died of her injuries. One of the front passengers was also killed in the crash. However, GM's data only lists the front occupant among those killed in connection with the faulty switches, not Weigel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.
When it rains, it pours. General Motors has announced yet another major recall, covering 1.3 million units in the American market over concerns that their power steering could suddenly fail. As reported by The Detroit News' David Shepardson, GM has now recalled nearly ten times as many cars as it did all of last year.
A senior investigator within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanted to open an investigation into defective Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models in November 2007. The director of the agency's Defects Assessment Division had spotted a trend of airbag non-deployments in the two General Motors models – early evidence of a problem included four fatal accidents, 29 complaints and 14 field reports.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, is echoing the call of safety advocates in requesting that the Justice Department create a compensation fund for those killed or injured behind the wheel of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches.
General Motors may be staring down another recall campaign for one of its models already embroiled in its high-profile ignition recall. The 2003-2007 Saturn Ion is already among the 1.6-million vehicles being recalled for faulty ignition switches, and now new light is being shed on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation over 2004-2007 models centering on a loss of power steering.
The ongoing investigation into General Motors' 1.6-million-car ignition recall continues to pick up steam, with most questions centering on what the company knew and when it knew it. On Tuesday, newly minted CEO Mary Barra held a press conference to directly address questions about GM's safety problems and their ramifications. In addition to public criticism and potential lawsuits, the business is facing multiple government examinations into how it handled the issue.
General Motors' ignition switch problem goes back even farther than first imagined. In a statement that the automaker submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it said that it found a case of the faulty ignition switch going back to 2001 in a pre-production Saturn Ion (pictured above). Previously, the earliest known affected vehicles were from 2004.