Families of General Motors crash victims bring their anguish to Washington

Apr 02 2014, 17:02 IST
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The group timed their visit around the hearings to put a face on the recall investigation and those responsible  accountable. (AP) The group timed their visit around the hearings to put a face on the recall investigation and those responsible accountable. (AP)
SummaryThe group timed their visit around the hearings to put a face on the recall investigation and those responsible accountable.

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

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