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Md. Teen First Death Linked To Faulty GM Ignition Switch

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ)—A Maryland family is at the center of a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Their daughter was killed in a car crash linked to General Motors’ faulty ignition switches.

Mary Bubula reports GM’s CEO testified why they waited 13 years to issue a recall.

In July 2005, 16-year-old Amber Rose was killed in Southern Maryland when the airbags on her Chevy Cobalt didn’t deploy.

Her death is the first linked to the defect.

GM now says it knew about the faulty ignition switch three years before Rose’s death.

“If they had simply fixed the problem back then, not one of our children would have died. They are directly responsible for all these family members who have lost children and countless others who have been in accidents. It’s repulsive,” said Laura Christian, Rose’s mother.

Christian and other victim’s relatives are on Capitol Hill for two days of Congressional hearings investigating why GM failed to recall several models of small cars, including the Cobalt.

GM’s new CEO Mary Barra is testifying.

“My sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry, ” Barra said.

Barra personally met with family members Monday night and apologized for failing to fix the ignitions sooner.

The faulty ignition switch can suddenly shut the engine off, disabling power steering, power brakes, seat belts and airbags.

“A piece that cost pennies failed to provide enough force, causing the car to turn off. GM knew about this problem in 2001. They were warned again and again over the next decade, but they did nothing,” said Congresswoman Diane DeGette, D-Colo.

“What we have here is a failure to communicate, and the results were deadly,” said Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

The government’s top highway safety officials are expected to tell lawmakers that GM withheld information that could have led to a timely recall and saved lives.

Several lawsuits have been filed against GM. But under bankruptcy terms from 2009, it’s not responsible for accidents or incidents before then.

GM has recalled millions of cars for various reasons over the past two months. The victims’ families want those cars taken off the road immediately.

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