Families of GM crash victims bring their anguish to Washington

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) - Standing on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning in the path of an early spring breeze, Renee Trautwein tearfully braced herself to relive the worst morning of her life.
In a few hours, Mary Barra, the chief executive officer of General Motors (GM), would be pressed to answer why the largest U.S. automaker did not act sooner to fix an ignition switch defect that can suddenly leave certain models of its cars without power.
Trautwein’s daughter died in one of those cars, a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, in South Carolina on the morning of June 12, 2009 – an accident Trautwein had previously thought was caused by her daughter falling asleep at the wheel.
Since the recall of the vehicle earlier this year, Trautwein now believes the car lost power and was unable to be steered.
“The first question a parent asks when they lose a child is,’Did they suffer?’ And now I have to relive this and I have to know about her final seconds on this earth and the panic that she felt. And that’s very painful,” Trautwein said as she left a press conference held by auto safety groups, members of Congress and families of victims ahead of the hearing.
More than 20 other parents who lost children in the recalled cars traveled to Washington this week to attend the Congressional committee hearings investigating whether GM knowingly delayed a recall and put the safety of drivers in danger.
The group timed their visit around the hearings to put a face on the recall investigation and those responsible accountable.
The recalls, which now total nearly 2.6 million cars, includes all model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.
The defect, caused by a weak ignition switch that can slip out of place, has been linked to at least 13 deaths.
Barra at the hearing hinted that GM may create a victims’ compensation fund, announcing it has retained Kenneth Feinberg, who recently oversaw the BP oil spill fund, to explore responses to families of the victims.
Trautwine said such a fund would only “pamper the situation,” and she would rather see the company’s leaders held accountable.
Testifying before Congress, Barra said she could not give lawmakers many answers about why GM waited more than a decade to recall the faulty vehicles. She pointed to an ongoing internal investigation.
“When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers,” Barra told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon.
Barra is due to appear before a Senate panel on Wednesday.
The parents gathered in Washington did not press Barra for answers but rather for action to prevent more loss of life.
The group met with Barra on Monday night at GM’s Washington offices and took turns telling her how each of their children were lost. Every parent was in tears and Barra dabbed her eyes with a Kleenex, said Laura Christian, who lost her daughter Amber Rose in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt crash in Maryland in 2005.
Christian told Reuters the group pressed Barra to mandate that the recalled cars are taken off the road, but that Barra declined to do so and claimed that the cars were safe if driven with light key rings.
Cherie Sharkey of New York lost her son Michael Sharkey when his 2006 Chevy Cobalt crashed and burst into flames. At the press conference on Tuesday morning, she held a picture taken just before the 2012 accident of the two of them dancing and smiling.
“ said sorry, but it wasn’t enough,” Sharkey said of her meeting with the CEO. “I look at this picture and I’m just completely not what I was anymore.” As the parents have put their stories in the public eye over the short two-day span in which Barra testifies, the group has gotten an up-close look at Washington-style public relations.
They have been rushed to meetings with members of Congress, live TV interviews, press conferences, congressional hearings, and closed-door meetings with government regulators.
Ken Rimer traveled from Wisconsin to honor his stepdaughter, Natasha Weigel, who died in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt crash in 2006. Before the trip, he told Reuters he didn’t know “how Washington works” and that he expected “to get pushed around.” But Rimer said running from place to place and sharing their stories has brought the group some solidarity.
“For those who lose a child, it’s a special club that no one wants to be a member of,” said Rimer.

Families of GM crash victims bring their anguish to Washington


WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) – Standing on the lawn of the
U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning in the path of an early spring
breeze, Renee Trautwein tearfully braced herself to relive the
worst morning of her life.

In a few hours, Mary Barra, the chief executive officer of
General Motors, would be pressed to answer why the
largest U.S. automaker did not act sooner to fix an ignition
switch defect that can suddenly leave certain models of its cars
without power.

Trautwein’s daughter died in one of those cars, a 2005 Chevy
Cobalt, in South Carolina on the morning of June 12, 2009 – an
accident Trautwein had previously thought was caused by her
daughter falling asleep at the wheel.

Since the recall of the vehicle earlier this year, Trautwein
now believes the car lost power and was unable to be steered.

“The first question a parent asks when they lose a child is,
‘Did they suffer?’ And now I have to relive this and I have to
know about her final seconds on this earth and the panic that
she felt. And that’s very painful,” Trautwein said as she left a
press conference held by auto safety groups, members of Congress
and families of victims ahead of the hearing.

More than 20 other parents who lost children in the recalled
cars traveled to Washington this week to attend the
congressional committee hearings investigating whether GM
knowingly delayed a recall and put the safety of drivers in
danger.

The group timed their visit around the hearings to put a
face on the recall investigation and those responsible
accountable.

The recalls, which now total nearly 2.6 million cars,
includes all model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR,
Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made
from 2003-2011.

The defect, caused by a weak ignition switch that can slip
out of place, has been linked to at least 13 deaths.

Barra at the hearing hinted that GM may create a victims’
compensation fund, announcing it has retained Kenneth Feinberg,
who recently oversaw the BP oil spill fund, to explore responses
to families of the victims.

Trautwine said such a fund would only “pamper the
situation,” and she would rather see the company’s leaders held
accountable.

Testifying before Congress, Barra said she could not give
lawmakers many answers about why GM waited more than a decade to
recall the faulty vehicles. She pointed to an ongoing internal
investigation.

“When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with
you, with our regulators, and with our customers,” Barra told a
House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon.

Barra is due to appear before a Senate panel on Wednesday.

The parents gathered in Washington did not press Barra for
answers but rather for action to prevent more loss of life.

The group met with Barra on Monday night at GM’s Washington
offices and took turns telling her how each of their children
were lost. Every parent was in tears and Barra dabbed her eyes
with a Kleenex, said Laura Christian, who lost her daughter
Amber Rose in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt crash in Maryland in 2005.

Christian told Reuters the group pressed Barra to mandate
that the recalled cars are taken off the road, but that Barra
declined to do so and claimed that the cars were safe if driven
with light key rings.

Cherie Sharkey of New York lost her son Michael Sharkey when
his 2006 Chevy Cobalt crashed and burst into flames. At the
press conference on Tuesday morning, she held a picture taken
just before the 2012 accident of the two of them dancing and
smiling.

” said sorry, but it wasn’t enough,” Sharkey said of
her meeting with the CEO. “I look at this picture and I’m just
completely not what I was anymore.”

As the parents have put their stories in the public eye over
the short two-day span in which Barra testifies, the group has
gotten an up-close look at Washington-style public relations.

They have been rushed to meetings with members of Congress,
live TV interviews, press conferences, congressional hearings,
and closed-door meetings with government regulators.

Ken Rimer traveled from Wisconsin to honor his stepdaughter,
Natasha Weigel, who died in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt crash in 2006.
Before the trip, he told Reuters he didn’t know “how Washington
works” and that he expected “to get pushed around.”

But Rimer said running from place to place and sharing their
stories has brought the group some solidarity.

“For those who lose a child, it’s a special club that no one
wants to be a member of,” said Rimer.

(Reporting by Julia Edwards, Editing by Karey Van Hall, Bernard
Orr)

US lawmakers see no evidence of terrorism in Malaysia jet crash

(Adds aviation expert, additional Feinstein comment)

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. lawmakers on
Sunday said investigators had found no evidence thus far
pointing to terrorism in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH370 three weeks ago, and that it was critical
to find the plane to understand what happened on board.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Senate
Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, speaking on
Sunday talk shows, said they had seen no evidence of foul play.

“I have seen nothing yet that comes out of the investigation
that would lead me to conclude that (this was) … anything
other than a normal flight that something happened and something
went wrong,” Rogers told “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. officials close to the investigation last week said the
FBI examined data it received from a home-made flight simulator
and other computer equipment used by MH370′s pilots, but found
nothing illuminating.

More than two dozen countries and 60 aircraft and ships
continued to search for the missing Boeing Co 777
airliner on Sunday, days before the batteries in the locators
attached to its black boxes are set to die.

Alan Diehl, who has 40 years experience investigating
accidents for the U.S. government and military, urged President
Barack Obama to offer Malaysia the use of larger numbers of U.S.
P-3 Orions, Air Force MC-130 special forces transports, and U.S.
submarines to hunt for the wreckage before the pingers die.

He told Reuters such efforts would be costly, but were
needed for the victims’ families, to deal with possible safety
issues with the 1,100 777s now flying, and to avert a negative
impact on future sales of Boeing’s newest 777 model, the 777X.

“If in the next few years we are still wondering about the
‘Malaysian Mystery’, (airlines) may be reluctant to purchase
aircraft suspected of having a flaw,” Diehl said. “This could
cost the company billions and America thousands of jobs.”

Feinstein told CNN the Malaysian government was in charge of
the search effort, and it would have to ask for additional
search or intelligence resources from the U.S. government.

“You can offer but you cannot demand,” Feinstein told CNN.
“And so the Malaysians would have to ask.

The Malaysian government has said it believes the plane’s
course was deliberately altered, but it remains unclear by whom,
or whether the change was made in response to a technical fault.

The Boeing 777 has one of the best safety records of any
commercial aircraft in service. The only fatal crash came last
July when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall on landing
in San Francisco, killing three of the 307 people aboard.

Rogers said U.S. investigators would conduct a detailed
forensic analysis of the computer equipment, even as they
continue to investigate the crew and passengers of the plane,
but he warned it would take “a tremendous amount of time.”

“We’re just going to have to be patient … as this thing
unfolds and the only way to really find out what happened is to
try to find the airframe itself or as much of it is intact so
they can do the forensic investigation on that,” Rogers said.

Feinstein echoed those remarks on CNN’s “State of the Union”
program, saying she had not seen any evidence indicating a
terrorist act brought the airplane down.

Asked if she had seen higher resolution satellite images of
the possible debris spotted in the Indian Ocean than those made
public, Feinstein said she had not, and suspected intelligence
officials did not have additional data to offer the Malaysians.

She said the lack of sharpness in the images made public
could be linked to the sophistication of the satellite that
gathered the imagery, but declined to provide further details.

“You have to understand that American intelligence doesn’t
gear itself to be ready for plane crashes. That is not its job.
Our job is terrorism and missile defense and that kind of
thing,” she said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Jim Loney, Meredith
Mazzilli and Bernard Orr)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Click For Restrictions – http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

1 dead after crash on Suitland Parkway in DC

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a crash on Suitland Parkway that left a man dead.

Police say it happened Friday around 7 p.m. when the driver of a 2008 GMC Yukon lost control of his car and collided with the bridge abutment for the Martin Luther King Avenue overpass.

Police identified the driver as 45-year-old Jeffery Asberry Ewings of Capitol Heights, Md.

The crash is under investigation.

1 dead after crash on Suitland Parkway in DC

Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2014 11:46 am
|


Updated: 3:02 pm, Sun Mar 30, 2014.

1 dead after crash on Suitland Parkway in DC

Associated Press |


0 comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a crash on Suitland Parkway that left a man dead.


Police say it happened Friday around 7 p.m. when the driver of a 2008 GMC Yukon lost control of his car and collided with the bridge abutment for the Martin Luther King Avenue overpass.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Subscription Required


An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety.


You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?


Login Now

Need an online subscription?


Subscribe

Login

Or, use your
facebook account:

on

Sunday, March 30, 2014 11:46 am.

Updated: 3:02 pm.

1 dead after shuttle bus crash on I-95; man held

LORTON, Va. — A shuttle bus carrying 16 passengers plus the driver, struck a guardrail and overturned before dawn Sunday along Interstate 95 south of the nation’s capital. One person died and 16 others were sent to the hospital, with one woman in critical condition, Virginia State Police said.

The bus was headed south from Washington, D.C., on the heavily traveled East Coast artery when witnesses reported a white, speeding four-door passenger vehicle swerved into the bus’ travel lane. The bus then swerved to the right to avoid the sedan, ran off the road, struck the guardrail and overturned, police said.

Troopers say the driver of the white sedan was later arrested and charged with one felony count of hit-and-run. The Virginia State Police identified him as 31-year-old Raphael Manuel Barrientos of Dumfries, Va. Additional charges are pending.

The crash occurred in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County and police were called at 3:28 a.m. Sunday, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

“Witnesses were able to provide us with a license plate and we were able to track that vehicle down at a residence,” Geller said. The car was found at 6:10 a.m. Sunday.

Geller said the man who died was one of two people flown from the crash to a northern Virginia hospital. He was identified as 24-year-old David Alberto Sanchez of Woodbridge, Va.

Geller said one other person was being treated for life-threatening injuries Sunday. Two others, the driver and a passenger, were being treated for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The remaining 13 passengers suffered minor injuries.

The father of one of the bus’ passengers said his 32-year-old son and 15 of his friends left a Washington, D.C., club headed to Woodbridge, Va. They were almost home when the bus crashed.

“My son called me and said we were in a major accident,” said Pat Tierno. “I said a car or what? He said no a party bus.”

Tierno’s son has a broken nose and ribs.

“I guess when it hit the guardrail it went airborne. At the end of it, there was only two people on the bus, him and another girl. The other kids were scattered throughout the ground. I know a lot of these kids. I coached baseball. They grew up together. He was banged up, I mean blood just everywhere on his head. They’re all banged up. From broken bones to broken legs.”

Geller identified the crashed vehicle as an American Transportation bus. An answering service dispatcher for that company said American Transportation had no information to release. A person who replied to an e-mail sent to the company’s address referred questions to the Virginia State Police.

News photographs taken at the site early Sunday showed police had erected orange safety cones at the site and used floodlights to illuminate the overturned commuter bus. The white bus was on its right side in a grassy area, its rear pointed away from a crumpled guardrail. Crews were visible using a tall crane trying to right the bus. Its windshield was shattered and much of its right side crumpled from the right front bumper backward.

Choking back tears, Tierno said, “It’s going to, I mean it’s going to be a long road, it’s going to be a long road for these kids. The thing is we always preach to these kids, do the right thing. They did the right thing. They rented a bus, yes they wanted to go out but they rented a bus and this is what happened.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

1 dead after shuttle bus overturns on I-95 in Va.

By JESSICA GRESKO
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – A shuttle bus struck a guardrail and overturned before dawn Sunday along busy Interstate 95 south of the nation’s capital, leaving one person dead and sending 16 others to the hospital, Virginia State Police said.

The bus was headed south on the heavily traveled East Coast artery when witnesses reported seeing a white, speeding four-door passenger vehicle swerve into the bus’s travel lane. The bus then swerved to the right to avoid the sedan, ran off the road, struck the guardrail and overturned, Virginia State Police said.

Troopers say the driver of the white sedan was later arrested and charged with one felony count of hit-and-run. The Virginia State Police identified him as 31-year-old Raphael Manuel Barrientos of Dumfries, Va. A woman who answered the phone at a telephone number for his home declined to comment.

The crash occurred on the interstate in northern Virginia’s Fairfax County and police were called at 3:28 a.m. Sunday, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

Geller said the man who died was one of two people flown from the crash to a northern Virginia hospital. He was identified as 24-year-old David Alberto Sanchez of Woodbridge, Va.

Sanchez’s father, Federico Hernandez, said in a telephone conversation Sunday with The Associated Press that his son, who worked in the office of an auto body shop in Virginia, was attending a birthday party for a co-worker. He said he believed his son had left around 11 p.m. Saturday for a trip into Washington to celebrate. He said he believed the bus was returning when it crashed. Hernandez said his son worked during the day but was also studying computers at a community college.

The State Police said that one other person was being treated for life-threatening injuries Sunday. Two others, the driver and a passenger, were being treated for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The remaining 13 passengers suffered minor injuries.

State Police identified the crashed vehicle as a shuttle bus operated by America Transportation. An answering service dispatcher for that company said America Transportation had no information to release. A person who replied to an e-mail sent to the company’s address referred questions to the Virginia State Police.

News photographs taken at the site early Sunday showed police had erected orange safety cones at the site and used floodlights to illuminate the overturned bus. It was on its right side in a grassy area, its rear pointed away from a crumpled guardrail. Crews were visible using a tall crane trying to right the bus. Its windshield was shattered and much of its right side crumpled from the right front bumper backward.

___

Associated Press reporter Bill Cormier contributed to this report from Atlanta.

___

Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Washington Island woman injured in crash near Oshkosh

<!–Saxotech Paragraph Count: 5
–>

A 70-year-old Washington Island woman was seriously injured Thursday afternoon in a crash along U.S. 41 in Winnebago County.

The Wisconsin State Patrol reports the woman was driving a Mercedes Benz ML350 northbound when the car ran off the road and struck a bridge concrete barrier at County Z south of Oshkosh at 1:39 p.m.

One lane of traffic was temporarily shutdown at the scene of the crash to allow EMS and the tow truck remove the driver and vehicle. She was transported to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah by Oshkosh Fire Department EMS.

Other agencies responding included the Town of Nekimi Fire Department, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, and Fond du Lac County Sheriffs Department.

The cause of the crash was still under investigation, and the woman’s name has not yet been released.

1 US theory on plane crash is piracy

WASHINGTON (KNOE 8 News/AP) – A U.S. official says investigators are examining the possibility that someone caused the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jet with 239 people on board, and that it may have been “an act of piracy.”

The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke only if not identified. While other theories are still being examined, the official says key evidence for “human intervention” in the plane’s disappearance is that contact with its transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system quit.

This official says that it’s also possible the plane may have landed somewhere.

Another communications system on the plane continued to “ping” a satellite for about four hours after contact was lost with the Boeing 777 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing – an indication the plane may have continued to fly on for hours.

Semi Crash Closes US 45

GALLATIN CO. — A semi crash has shut down US 45 near the Saline/Gallatin County line.

Illinois State Police say the crash happened Tuesday morning on US 45 just north of Washington Road in Gallatin County.

The Saline County Sheriff’s Office sent an alert advising residents that Route 45 was closed north of Texas City and to use Route 1 as an alternate route.

State police say US 45 is expected to be closed for several hours. Traffic is being detoured, and drivers are asked to avoid the area.