A sticky accelerator on a Toyota Camry is the likely cause of a car crash that killed two people and injured two others in west Utah.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nathan Croft told the Salt Lake Tribune that 66-year-old Paul Vanalfen’s 2008 Camry slammed into a rock wall in Wendover on Nov. 5, killing him and 38-year-old Charlene Lloyd, his son’s fiancee. Police said Vanalfen died at the scene, and Lloyd, who had been critically injured, died the following day.
Vanalfen’s 61-year old wife, Shirlene, and 34-year old son, Cameron, were treated and released for injuries at Salt Lake’s University Hospital, said spokeswoman Cathy Wilets. She didn’t have details on their treatments or conditions.
Tire skid marks at the crash site showed Vanalfen tried to stop the Camry as it exited Interstate 80, but the car went through an intersection before hitting the wall, Croft said Saturday. The Camry’s brakes appeared to be in working order, he said.
In the past year, Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled millions of vehicles because of floor mats that can snag gas pedals or accelerators that can sometimes stick. Hundreds of lawsuits were filed against Toyota after the automaker began issuing the worldwide recalls.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has received about 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration from Toyota drivers in the past decade, including 93 deaths. The government, however, has confirmed only four deaths from one crash.
Croft told the newspapers that Vanalfen’s Camry was subject to at least three recalls, one mandatory and two voluntary.
The mandatory recall and repair, for a sticking accelerator, had been completed, he said. Authorities continued to investigate whether the recalls and repairs for a short accelerator pad and a sticky floor mat were also completed.
“We cant say definitely, but there is a strong likelihood that that in fact did cause the crash,” Croft told the newspaper.
Toyota said in a statement to The Associated Press that it was “supporting the Utah Highway Patrol with their investigation.”
“Toyota sympathizes with the friends and family of Paul Vanalfen,” Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Paul Nolasco in Tokyo said Monday.
Nolasco said he did not have details on whether the Camry underwent any fixes under its recall. He said it was premature to draw any conclusions with the investigation ongoing.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)