Deaths from Runaway Toyotas Put at 39 by Investigators

As the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, took his place at a Congressional hearing, the committee chairman said the death toll from runaway Toyotas had reached 39.

"To give that horrifying number some perspective, there were 27 deaths attributed to the famous Pinto exploding gas tank of the 1970s," said Rep. Edolphus Towns, D.-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Driver in Prison for Fatal Runaway Toyota Accident

"In short, if the Camry and the Prius were airplanes, they would be grounded," said Towns in his opening statement.

Towns charged Toyota withheld information from federal safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and he also accused NHTSA of failing to aggressively investigate nearly 2,500 consumer complaints of sudden acceleration in Toyotas since 1970.

"NHTSA failed the taxpayers and Toyota failed their customers," said the committee chairman.

The NHTSA administrator, David Strickland, had been scheduled to testify this morning but was "pulled" late last night by the Obama administration, according to committee staff members.

VIDEO: Committee hears testimony from victims and Toyota USA president Jim Lentz.
Toyota CEO to Testify

  A spokesman for ranking Republican member Rep. Darrell Issa of California, Kurt Bardella, said no explanation was offered for Strickland's sudden withdrawal by the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

"It's very obvious that there is an effort to circle the wagons and control who will speak to Congress and when," said Bardella. "If this committee fails to receive satisfactory answers today, we will not hesitate to convene a second hearing next week so we get the answers the American people are demanding."

While testifying before the committee today, LaHood defended NHTSA's defect investigations. "Every step of the way NHTSA has pushed Toyota to make sure consumers would be safe," he said. "We have not been sitting around on our hands."

As to allegations that an electronic or computer glitch may be a cause of some of the runaway cars, LaHood said, "We will get into the weeds on this to see if there is an electornic problem." It was only after a series of ABC News reports that NHTSA and Toyota began a series of intensive investigation of possible electronic issues.

Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 9929661.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
PHOTO: Motorists were startled when an axe from a dump truck in front of them flew at their windshield.
Massachusetts State Police/Facebook