BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Calling for criminal charges. A Maryland mother says General Motors covered up a defect in their cars that led to her daughter’s death. Last week, the federal government fined GM $35 million for waiting a decade to issue a recall for that faulty ignition switch. Some say that is nowhere near enough.
Meghan McCorkell spoke with that mother.
Thirteen deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to the faulty ignition switches. General Motors acknowledges it knew about the defect in 2004–and didn’t issue a recall until 2014.
July 2005: 16-year-old Amber Marie Rose died after losing control of her Chevy Cobalt in Charles County. The airbags never deployed.
“The EMTs told us that if they had, she would have been alive today,” said her mother, Laura Christian.
The teen’s death has been linked to a faulty ignition switch, which can cut off the engine and disable the airbags–a defect the federal government says General Motors knew about for a decade.
Last week, the company was fined $35 million.
“What GM did was break the law,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
But Christian says the penalty is just a slap on the wrist and that GM should face criminal charges.
“If you or I went out and we killed someone, we would be held to maximum penalty under the law. GM should not be held accountable any different than you or I would,” she said.
Appearing in front of Congress last month, GM’s CEO Mary Barra says she’s launched an internal investigation.
“It took way too long for this to come to attention and to do the recall,” Barra said.
The company has promised to increase safety standards, issuing 29 recalls since the beginning of the year–including several this week. GM has now recalled five times the number of cars it sold all of last year.
While she’s relieved to see more recalls, Christian says for her family, it’s too late.
“Amber should be here. She should be here with us. We should have the rest of our lives with her,” she said.
Now she wants to make sure no other families go through the same pain.
A petition asking the attorney general to prosecute GM employees involved in the alleged coverup already has more than 110,000 signatures.
Barra held a private meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday to discuss the company’s internal investigation and its compensation plan for the victims.
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)