GM excluded crash deaths from ignition inquiry - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

GM excluded crash deaths from ignition inquiry

Posted: Updated:

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors excluded the Saturn Ion from a Feb. 13 recall for faulty ignition switches after engineers inexplicably failed to look at fatal crashes involving the compact car.

The cars were recalled two weeks later, after another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions that killed four people, according to a GM chronology of the recall posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Wednesday night.

According to the chronology, GM employees were told about most of the Ion crash deaths within two weeks of when they occurred. So GM knew about the deaths but still failed to consider them until this year.

The exclusion of the crash deaths will likely be scrutinized by two congressional committees and the Justice Department, all of which are investigating why it took so long for GM to recall the cars. The company has acknowledged knowing about deadly ignition switches at least a decade ago, yet it failed to recall 1.6 million compact cars until last month. In addition, NHTSA is investigating whether GM withheld information from the safety agency or didn't disclose it as quickly as required by law.

The chronology didn't say why the engineers excluded the Ion crash deaths from their inquiry, which took place in 2011. GM spokesman Greg Martin said he could not comment on why the Ion crashes were left out. He said GM added to the recall after a review of data including crashes.

"Today's GM is fully committed to learning from the past while embracing the highest standards for quality and performance now and in the future," he said in a statement.

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007). All of the recalled cars have the same ignition switches.

The company said the ignition switches can wear from heavy, dangling keys. If the key chains are bumped or people drive on rough surfaces, the switches can suddenly change from the "run" position to "accessory" or "off." That cuts off power-assisted steering and brakes and could cause drivers to lose control. Also, the air bags may not inflate in a crash and protect the driver and passengers.

The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

The chronology also hints at problems with the ignition switches surfacing as early as 2001 as the Ion was being developed. But engineers thought they had fixed the trouble with a design change. The company also had reports of Ions stalling in 2003 because of ignitions that could slip unexpectedly out of the run position.

Also Wednesday, GM said it would offer to owners of the recalled cars free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle. The offers are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.

Shares of GM have fallen 7.3 percent this week amid word of new investigations. The stock fell 32 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $34.86 on Wednesday.

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

  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • Fired band director says he fixing vulgar culture

    Fired band director says he fixing vulgar culture

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:34 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:34:18 GMT
    The fired Ohio State University marching band director says he was working to change its sexualized culture when he was dismissed.More >>
    The fired Ohio State University marching band director says he was working to change its sexualized culture when he was dismissed.
    More >>
  • Ohio theme park tries to top shaved-heads record

    Ohio theme park tries to top shaved-heads record

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:27 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:27:36 GMT
    MASON, Ohio (AP) - A southwestern Ohio amusement park will try to top a Guinness record for the most heads shaved simultaneously to help raise awareness and money to fight cancer. Kings Island says more than 200 hair stylists from Great Clips salons in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Lima and Toledo will shave heads Friday at the park north of Cincinnati. The Guinness World Records website says the current record at 182 heads shaved simultaneously was achieved by Cancer Council ACT-...More >>
    MASON, Ohio (AP) - A southwestern Ohio amusement park will try to top a Guinness record for the most heads shaved simultaneously to help raise awareness and money to fight cancer. Kings Island says more than 200 hair stylists from Great Clips salons in Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Lima and Toledo will shave heads Friday at the park north of Cincinnati. The Guinness World Records website says the current record at 182 heads shaved simultaneously was achieved by Cancer Council ACT-...More >>
  • Hundreds of pet rats rescued from Ohio apartment

    Hundreds of pet rats rescued from Ohio apartment

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:23 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:23:19 GMT
    KETTERING, Ohio (AP) - Humane Society workers have rescued hundreds of pet rats from an apartment in suburban Dayton apparently left after the renter was evicted. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton found as many as 300 so-called "fancy" or "pocket" pet rats in the studio apartment in Kettering after responding to a complaint Thursday morning. Humane Society official Sheila Marquis tells the Dayton Daily News the animals make great pets for children but breed rapidly if they aren't spayed a...More >>
    KETTERING, Ohio (AP) - Humane Society workers have rescued hundreds of pet rats from an apartment in suburban Dayton apparently left after the renter was evicted. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton found as many as 300 so-called "fancy" or "pocket" pet rats in the studio apartment in Kettering after responding to a complaint Thursday morning. Humane Society official Sheila Marquis tells the Dayton Daily News the animals make great pets for children but breed rapidly if they aren't spayed a...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms