The conviction of a man sentenced to eight years in prison for vehicular homicide is now being re-examined in light of the recent Toyota recalls for unintended acceleration.
According to CNN, in 2006, 29-year-old Koua Fong Lee was driving his family, including his pregnant wife, child, father, brother and niece, home from church when his car, going between 70 and 90 miles an hour, struck another two cars at a red light. The crash killed two people instantly; a third person was rendered paralyzed before eventually dying of her injuries.
Lee was driving a 1996 Toyota Camry.
Ever since the accident, Lee has maintained his innocence, claiming that he did everything he possibly could to slow the car down at the intersection by hitting the brakes.
[At his trial,] Ramsey County prosecutors claimed Lee had his foot on the gas as he approached cars waiting at a red light.
Two mechanical engineers examined the car before trial on behalf of the state and the defense, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner said. Both concluded the brakes were operating and there were no problems with the acceleration, she said.
Although the throttle was found set open at 15 percent, which is unusual, the abnormality was attributed at the time to damage from the crash, she said. –CNN
The 1996 Camry was not part of the recent Toyota recall. However, there have been 526 NHTSA complaints about the ’96 Camry, more than two dozen involving loss of vehicle speed control.
In light of this, even the families of the people killed in the accident are asking that Lee’s conviction be revisited, and that his car be re-examined for accelerator problems.
Problems with the 1996 Camry’s accelerator would mean a 15-year history of negligence and cover-ups on the part of Toyota. As more and more of these kinds of cases come to light, it’s mind-boggling to realize how many lives Toyota’s negligence has ended or damaged—often irreparably. Toyota executives should be the criminals going to prison for vehicular homicide.