GM enters harsh spotlight as U.S. Congress hearings begin
Tuesday, April 01, 2014 - 01:08
April 1 - Families of GM crash victims speak out ahead of Congressional hearings to determine who is at fault in at least 13 auto-related deaths. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Congress will try to establish who is to blame for at least 13 auto-related deaths over the past decade, as public hearings are launched on Tuesday (April 1) on General Motors Co's slow response to defective ignition switches in cars.
Families of crash victims spoke out in Washington, D.C. and urged Congress to place harsh penalties on the car-maker.
Laura Christian's daughter, Amber Marie Rose, was the first GM-related car death.
"At first it was one, and then we were a few. As you see, we are now many. And there are still more. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are the ones left behind when a loved one got into what was supposedly a safe car, a GM car," said Christian.
"A car that GM knew for years was dangerous and defective," she added.
Ken Rimer said his wife had lost her only daughter, Natasha Weigel, due to the the company's negligence.
"There will be no boyfriend troubles, no wedding day jitters, no children for Natasha or grandchildren for Jane," he said.
"Please help us in standing up for what is right. GM knew what was wrong. GM hid it during the bankruptcy proceedings. GM is liable for these young deaths."
Despite tougher laws enacted in 2000 and 2010 to encourage automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to aggressively root out safety concerns, it took GM more than a decade to publicly acknowledge that it had a potentially fatal problem.
Some in Congress are beginning to wonder whether more people died in cars outfitted with faulty switches, beyond the 13 GM identified, as they review documents pointing to a redesigned replacement part that also could be substandard.
The committee, as well as a Senate panel on Wednesday, is expected to begin demanding answers from GM on whether decisions like that directly contributed to crashes.
So far, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars to replace ignition switches that could unexpectedly stall out engines, prevent airbags from deploying and make power brakes and power steering inoperable.
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