Monday, September 14, 2009

Floor Mat Eyed To Be the Cause of Tragic Accident

It was a tragic end for four people whose lives held so much promise.

California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and his wife Cleofe, a molecular biologist and senior research associate, their 13-year-old daughter Mahala, and Chris Lastrella, a basketball coach and enrollment adviser never would have thought having their vehicle serviced and getting a loaner car would have caused them their lives – but it did.

The car, a 2009 Lexus ES 350, was a loaner from Bob Baker Lexus El Cajon. The dealer has not said a word regarding what they believe may have caused the accident and is waiting for the results of the investigation.

Minutes before the crash, Latrella managed to call 911 and report that they could not stop the vehicle, and worse, they were going at a deadly speed because the accelerator was stuck.

A rubber mat may have caused the accelerator to get stuck, according to the preliminary investigation. The loaner car was equipped with “all-weather” floor mats, the same mats which has been the subject of a 2007 product recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that the mats could slip if not properly installed and entrap the gas pedal, causing sudden acceleration. The all-weather mats installed in 2007 and 2008 models of the Lexus ES 350 were recalled by manufacturer Toyota.

Under the law, manufacturers, sellers and distributors may be responsible for products that pose a danger to users or consumers as a result of design and/or manufacturing defects or if the product liability is the cause of the accident.

Since the floor mat apparently caused the accident and now, the subject of a recall, its presence in the loaner car may pin the blame firmly on the dealer.

A potentially dangerous or defective product like the all weather mat should have been removed from the loaner vehicle. The negligence of the dealer to do so, will likely result in a civil suit for damages, most likely, for the wrongful death of the family from Chula Vista.