Family Killed in Crash Sparks Toyota Hearings
It's the accident hanging over the Toyota hearings in Washington: the horrific crash that killed four people. The devastated family members of the victims are now taking center stage in the national debate about Toyota safety.
"It was a horrible tragedy and I hope that no other family has to endure that," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The hearing on Capitol Hill was packed as the car manufacturer came under blistering fire. We've been hearing about Toyota's safety issues for weeks now, but one accident in particular, an accident that wiped out an entire family, has come to symbolize the scandal facing Toyota.
Mark Saylor, an off-duty California highway patrolman, his wife, 13-year-old daughter and brother-in-law were in a 2009 Lexus in August that a dealer had given him as a loaner car.
They were traveling on a stretch of Route 125 outside San Diego when investigators say the accelerator got stuck and the driver couldn't stop. He made a frantic 911 call to ask for help.
Caller: "We're going 120mph! We're in trouble, we can't, there's no brakes!"
911 Operator: "Okay."
Caller: "End freeway half mile!"
911 Operator: "Okay, and you don't have the ability to, like, turn the vehicle off or anything?"
Caller: "We're approaching the intersection! We're approaching the intersection!"
911 Operator: "Okay."
Caller: "We're approaching intersection! Hold on guys. Pray. Pray. Oh shoot, there's—Oh! Oh!"
911 Operator: "Hello?"
The runaway Lexus crashed through a guardrail, rolled over and over, and burst into flames. All four people were killed in the charred wreckage. The crash triggered a massive recall that is still ongoing.
At the Congressional hearing, beleaguered Toyota president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the manufacturer's founder, bowed and personally apologized to the Saylor family.
"I would like to extend my condolences to the members of the Saylor family, for the accident in San Diego," said Toyoda.
The devastated family says Toyota's apology will never be enough.
So far, Toyota has recalled 8 million vehicles. For a complete list of them, click here.