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Newspaper collates victim information on Toyota "sudden acceleration" deaths

On February 28, 2010, the LA Times published an outstanding compilation of the facts of some of the 56 deaths now identified with sudden acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles.  The article noted that many of the incidents arose out of mundane local trips undertaken by older, experienced drivers with virtually perfect driving records.  It also pointed out that many of the claims were NOT associated with product liability actions and that many of the families involved had expressly decided NOT to pursue a wrongful death action against Toyota.  

Among the victims identified by the paper were: 

A 62-year old charged with manslaughter for the "speeding" death of her close friend when they struck another car at 80 miles per hour on their way back to work after lunch in a neighborhood restaurant.

A 77 year-old who died several days after she was critically injured when her Toyota accelerated out of the drive-in pharmacy and into a nearby jewelry store.  Her family is not suing, even though their decedent maintained that her accelerator stuck and the car "had a mind of its own."

Four Jehova's Witnesses leaving a suburban neighborhood who drowned in a nearby lake when the vehicle drove at high speed through a stop sign in the neighborhood.  The 56 year-old driver had already removed the floor mats in the car.  Prior to his December 26 accidental death, he had a "perfect" driving record;

A devout Catholic who died when his wife of 50 years swerved into oncoming traffic while struggling to control her accelerating Toyota, and ultimately struck a concrete wall.  She was fined for speeding--her first ticket ever--despite her claim that the car would not stop, no matter how hard she applied the brakes.

A 67 year-old on her way to church with a friend who claimed her car accelerated away from the victim's residence and struck another mobile home 100 feet away.  The victim died of massive internal injuries in a collision that moved the double-wide a foot off its foundation.

A 56-year old who was killed while out shopping on Black Friday with her 10 year-old granddaughter.  They were T-boned by another 56 year-old who ran three red lights and was traveling at what witnesses estimated was 60 miles per hour prior to the wreck.  She reported her brakes would not function and the "car had a mind of its own" but her account was discredited by medical testimony that she may have suffered a stroke.

A professional chauffeur and his 6 year-old daughter who sped through a stop sign and into an Atlanta-area lake where they both drowned. 

A 66 year-old who ran a series of errands within a mile of home, but died when her Toyota struck a tree at almost 100 miles per hour.  Her emergency hand brake was found to be fully engaged and witnesses described the victim frantically attempting to evade other traffic as she "rocketed" down the shoulder of a suburban road.

The article noted that Toyota has received far more complaints of unintended acceleration than have other manufacturers; that Toyota executives bragged in internal memos about the savings they had achieved by avoiding (or ultimately merely delaying) recalls; and that police authorities are dependent upon Toyota to evaluate the data from electronic data records ("black boxes" or EDRs) in Toyota vehicles.  Unlike other manufacturers, Toyota won't share the coding information necessary to evaluate electronic data collected in the boxes.

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