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  • Update on Fatal Crash Involving Off-Duty Chp Officer

    Feds raise concern over gas pedal in fatal crash
    Accelerator in Lexus also stuck to floor mat
    By Debbi Baker
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer

    2:00 a.m. October 27, 2009

    A federal report on the fiery, high-speed Lexus crash that killed a California Highway Patrol officer and his family found that the accelerator was stuck to an unsecured and incorrect floor mat and that the design of the gas pedal may have contributed to the crash.

    Nothing in the report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates when the floor mat may have attached to the pedal. Once the pedal was removed from the wreckage, it was found to be still operational and its spring action was “smooth and unencumbered,” the report said.

    Federal highway investigators said the plastic pedal, a rigid, one-piece lever, has no hinge and therefore “no means for relieving forces caused by interferences.” Their report does not refer to alternative designs.

    Toyota Motor Corp., maker of the Lexus, said earlier that wrong-sized floor mats may have trapped the gas pedal, causing unintended acceleration. The bottom of the accelerator was found melted to the right corner of the mat.

    CHP Officer Mark Saylor of Chula Vista and his wife, Cleofe, both 45, their 13-year-old daughter, Mahala, and Saylor's brother-in-law Chris Lastrella, 38, died in the Aug. 28 crash in Santee.

    Seconds before the loaner Lexus drove off state Route 125 at Mission Gorge Road, back-seat passenger Lastrella said in a 911 call that the gas pedal was stuck and that the car was traveling 120 mph.

    A month after the crash, Toyota announced its biggest U.S. recall — 3.8 million vehicles — because of floor mats that may cause unwanted acceleration.

    The highway safety report was issued to update the public regarding the recall, administration spokesman Eric Bolton said yesterday. It does not come to any conclusions about the cause of the accident.

    The final report on the crash will be issued by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. It is the lead investigator in the case and is sharing information with federal highway inspectors and the CHP.

    In its recall announcement, Toyota advised drivers to remove all types of floor mats and warned owners that if their vehicle is accelerating out of control, they should check to see if the floor mat is under the pedal and remove it.

    If that can't be done, the driver should step on the brake pedal with both feet until the vehicle slows and then try to put it into neutral and switch the ignition to accessory power.

    Official recall letters are scheduled to be sent out this week, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said yesterday.

    Many people have asked why Saylor did not shift the car into neutral. It has not yet been reported what gear the car was in when it crashed, and whether the 20-year CHP veteran tried to change gears.

    Asked if it is possible to shift a speeding Lexus with a wide-open accelerator into neutral, Lyons said: “Absolutely.”

    Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, said shifting the car into neutral at that speed would be “difficult at best.”

    Ditlow said the configuration of the gear shift panel, as outlined in a 2008 highway administration report, showed that the neutral position in the gear shift pattern was not immediately obvious, which led to unsuccessful attempts to disengage the engine.

    A driver who is speeding down a crowded highway would have both hands on the wheel and would have to take his eyes off the road in order to see where neutral was, Ditlow said. He surmised that Saylor was trying not to hit anyone else on the crowded highway.

    “It was a courageous example of someone who sacrificed his life to save others,” Ditlow said.

    In the highway administration's report, the floor mat in the 2009 Lexus ES 350, on loan from Bob Baker Lexus El Cajon, belonged in a 2005-09 Lexus RX400H sport utility vehicle.

    The mat was not secured to the carpet by either of its two retaining clips. The report also addressed a problem with the vehicle's electronic ignition shutoff, saying there is no instruction on the dashboard that notes the push button must be held for three seconds while the car is in motion in order to shut off the engine.

    It also looked at the brake pads and rotors, which showed signs of significant and heavy braking. Witnesses saw flames coming from the front and rear tires of the speeding Lexus before it crashed.

    The rotors were discolored and heated with very rough surfaces. The pads were melted and the edges were bubbled and the friction surfaces were burned, the report said.

    The report also indicated that the car's event data recorder was intact in the car with only minor fire damage, but attempts to retrieve its data have not been made.
    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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  • #2
    http://forums.officer.com/forums/
    Last edited by Nobody; 11-06-2009, 04:00 PM.

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    • #3
      Why would you not just turn off the ignition ? Oh wow, you have to hold down some special button to do that while the car is moving....sheesh....sounds dumber and dumber.
      Last edited by willbird; 10-28-2009, 11:11 AM.
      Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

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      • #4
        Didn't Toyota just have a recall on this?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dadyswat View Post
          Didn't Toyota just have a recall on this?
          Yes, because of this accident.
          Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by willbird View Post
            Why would you not just turn off the ignition ? Oh wow, you have to hold down some special button to do that while the car is moving....sheesh....sounds dumber and dumber.
            You gotta slip it into neutral, turning it off = no power brakes or steering.
            "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Orwell

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            • #7
              Even holding the ignition button in for 3 seconds does not guarantee it will turn the engine off for those key-less ignitions.

              Someone at work had an issue turning off their vehicle after parking....they had to get the key a distance away before they could get it turned off.
              Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AZLawDawg View Post
                You gotta slip it into neutral, turning it off = no power brakes or steering.
                If your as old as we both are, we know you can drive a car just fine "dead stick" and you DO have 1-2 applications of power brakes because the (usually vacuum) power brake booster stores energy. With the engine running at wide open throttle in neutral it may not last long anyway.

                Bill
                Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

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                • #9
                  Looks like the dealership messed up bad by allowing this to happen. Then again, I have been a mechanic for a long time and have only ran across this problem once.

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                  • #10
                    I once had the gas pedal get caught at full throttle in my first Taurus SHO. That was very scarey. I shut off the ignition, key of course. And I was standing on the brake pedal.

                    That is a sad story and yes I bet there was a couple minutes of hell prior to the crash.

                    ps-I've been a mechanic since 95. ASE Master

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by willowdared View Post
                      Even holding the ignition button in for 3 seconds does not guarantee it will turn the engine off for those key-less ignitions.

                      Someone at work had an issue turning off their vehicle after parking....they had to get the key a distance away before they could get it turned off.


                      And 3 seconds under acceleration is a long *** time. I feel bad for this guy and his family as the rest of you must, and I hope that some how it get's fixed to some extent because of this....

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TS6034 View Post
                        I once had the gas pedal get caught at full throttle in my first Taurus SHO. That was very scarey. I shut off the ignition, key of course. And I was standing on the brake pedal.

                        That is a sad story and yes I bet there was a couple minutes of hell prior to the crash.

                        ps-I've been a mechanic since 95. ASE Master
                        Another problem that happened now and then with carburated cars is ice buildup inside the carb, this holds the butterfly open and can cause sort of the same thing....whats weird is you can stop, take off the air cleaner, and the ice is melting right in front of your eyes and is gone in 60 seconds literally.

                        I have not heard of this happening with fuel injection cars......not saying it does not, it usually happens at freeway speeds in humid conditions when the temp is at or around 32 degrees, it can happen ABOVE 32 degrees because the fuel vaporizing cools the air to some degree.

                        Bill
                        Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

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                        • #13
                          nm... off on a tangent...
                          Last edited by Nobody; 10-30-2009, 10:41 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I remember hearing the audio recording of this accident. I feel for them.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by willbird View Post
                              If your as old as we both are, we know you can drive a car just fine "dead stick" and you DO have 1-2 applications of power brakes because the (usually vacuum) power brake booster stores energy. With the engine running at wide open throttle in neutral it may not last long anyway.

                              Bill
                              That's true, my first car had neither - but in that situation at highway speeds, it's better to have the power options consistantly available, than not, especially if there's traffic building.
                              "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - Orwell

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