September 2009

Toyota Announces 3.8 Million Vehicle Recall Involving Floor Mats

September 29, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

One month after four people died in a car accident that involved a floor mat that may have jammed the Lexus’s gas pedal to the floor, Toyota announced that it will recall 3.8 million vehicles. This is the automaker’s largest recall ever and affects eight Toyota and Lexus models, including the 2004 – 2009 Toyota Priuses and the 2007-2010 Camrys. While most of the affected autos use key ignitions, many of the vehicles have start-stop buttons, which means that unless someone presses the button for three seconds, the engine will continue to run.

According to Toyota, if the floor mat on the driver’s side comes loose and causes the accelerator pedal to jam, the vehicle may accelerate to high speeds and the driver may not be able to stop the car. Toyota is waiting to figure out a solution before recalling the affected autos. In the meantime, the auto manufacturer wants vehicle owners to remove the driver’s side floor mat from the vehicle.

On August 28, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, 45, his wife Cleofe,45, brother-in-law Chris Lastrella, 38, and daughter Mahala, 13, died in what investigators believe is a car accident that was caused by the floor mat causing the accelerator to become stuck. Witnesses say Saylor’s Lexus was weaving through traffic at a high speed. While turning left, his auto struck a Ford Explorer before driving through a fence, hitting a dirt embankment, flying over 100 feet through the air, and catching fire after landing.

Prior to the deadly car crash, someone from the vehicle called 911 to report that the brakes on the car was not working. The car accident victims died from blunt force trauma to the torso or head.

The government has noted that this floor-mat issue has been reported 102 times and has been linked to 13 car accidents, 17 injuries, and five deaths.

Car makers can be held liable for any auto part defect that results in a North Carolina car crash. Filing an auto products liability claim against a car manufacturer can be challenging without the help of an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina products liability law firm representing you.

Toyota to recall 3.8 million vehicles, Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2009

Toyota says floor-mat recall will be its largest ever, as it’s blamed for 13 crashes and five deaths, USA Today, September 29, 2009

Deadly Accident Prompts Floor Mat Warning, NBC San Diego, September 15, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Stop North Carolina Car Accidents By Preventing Anyone Who is Drunk From Driving

September 23, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that many people would like to stop anyone who is drunk from driving. 2 out of every 3 of the 1,004 people surveyed liked the idea of developing technology that would prevent drunk people from being able to start a vehicle.

Currently, there are ignition interlock devices installed in certain autos. Some people convicted of DWI have this device in their vehicles. The device is designed to prevent a convicted DWI offender whose blood alcohol content registers above a certain level from starting the auto’s engine.

Some 180,000 interlock devices are currently in operation. While they are effective at reducing the chances that a prior DWI offender will drive drunk again, not everyone who drives drunk has this device in their vehicles. According to the institute, more than 8,000 car accident victims might not have died last year if all vehicles had been equipped with interlock devices.

The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety is currently considering new detection technologies. Support for such a device was high among survey takers—even among participants who drink at least four times a week.

Too many lives are lost because of drunk drivers. As our Raleigh car accident law firm reported, several days ago, Dr. Raymond Cook was driving at a speed of 85 mph when he fatally struck the vehicle driven by 20-year-old Ellen Shapiro, who was a ballerina. Cook is accused of driving drunk and he is charged with second-degree murder.

In Gaston County, North Carolina, Marcus Wakefield is also charged with second-degree murder over his fiancé’s Gastonia car accident death. Wakefield lost control of his vehicle on Garrison Boulevard. The car then flipped over into the Catawba Creek. While the 31-year-old driver was able to get out of the auto, Johnetta McLean did not escape. Wakefield was initially charged with just DWI.

New survey results: stop anyone impaired by alcohol from driving any vehicle, public says, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, September 17, 2009

Gastonia Man Admits Impairment Led To Deadly Crash,, September 23, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Pubic is Ready to Lock Out Driving Over the Legal Limit, IIHS (PDF)

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Groom Dies in Raleigh Car Accident on His Wedding Day

September 17, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Earlier this week, our North Carolina car accident lawyers posted a story about a ballet dancer who died from injuries she sustained in a Raleigh auto collision because Wake County doctor Raymond Cook ran a red light.

Elena Bright Shapiro was 20. Cook, who was allegedly drunk when the deadly North Carolina car accident happened, is charged with second-degree murder over the Raleigh traffic crash.

On Saturday, a Raleigh red light running crash claimed another life when Asheville resident James Howard Early failed to stop his vehicle as is required by law and ran into the vehicle that 28-year-old Christopher Raynor was riding in at the intersection of Westgate and Lumley roads early in the morning.

Raynor was scheduled to get married later that day. He and his groomsmen were going to breakfast together when the deadly Raleigh car accident happened.

Because Raynor wasn’t wearing a seat belt, he was ejected from the vehicle during the crash. His body was then struck by another motor vehicle.

Police have charged Early with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and a red light violation.

Both Raynor and Shapiro were in the prime of their lives that ended suddenly because other people were allegedly negligent. It is hard enough to lose someone you love for any reason. It can be even harder to cope with that loss when you believe that your loved one would be alive today if only another party hadn’t behaved recklessly or carelessly.

Filing a Raleigh car accident claim won’t bring your loved one back, but it can help you obtain the compensation that you are owed for your loss. Obtaining Raleigh wrongful death recovery can help cover some of the financial costs that can result from losing a family member, including hospital bills, funeral expenses, income loss, and other losses.

Family, friends remember groom killed on wedding day,, September 17, 2009

Memorial planned for groom killed on wedding day, WRAL, September 15, 2009

Related Web Resource:
The National Campaign to Stop Red Light Running

Ballet Dancer Killed in Raleigh Car Accident After Wake County Surgeon Runs Red Light

September 15, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Wake County, Dr. Raymond Cook has been charged with second-degree murder over the red light running Raleigh car crash that claimed the life of a 20-year-old ballet dancer on Friday night. Elena Bright Shapiro was pronounced dead at a local hospital following the North Carolina auto accident.

The deadly Wake County traffic collision occurred on Strickland Road close to Leadmine Road when police say Cook, who was allegedly driving at a speed of 85 mph in a 45 mph zone, struck the vehicle that Shapiro was driving.

Cook had initially been charged with DWI, death by motor vehicle, careless driving, reckless driving, and failure to reduce speed. Today, the plastic surgeon voluntarily gave up his medical license. He also has resigned from his positions at UNC School of Medicine and with WakeMed Facial Plastic Surgery. Cook has agreed to take part in a substance abuse treatment program for doctors.

Per court documents, Cook’s eyes were “bloodshot” and “glassy,” he was swaying, his speech was slurred, and he smelled of alcohol right after Friday’s deadly Raleigh car accident.

This is not Cook’s first drunk driver-related offense. He pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol when he was charged in Georgia in 1989.

Meantime, Elena Bright Shapiro was buried in Winston-Salem today.

Our Raleigh car accident lawyers cannot stress enough how dangerous it is for a driver to run a red light. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 9,200 people died and about 1 million others were injured in auto accidents that occurred at intersections in 2005, while red light running was a factor in about 805 of those traffic deaths.

Red light running catches the other driver unaware and can result in serious auto crashes—especially if the motorist attempting to run the red light is speeding in order to avoid getting a ticket and/or trying get across the intersection as quickly as possible.

Red light running is negligent driving and can be grounds for a Raleigh car accident lawsuit.

Ballet dancer killed in high-speed crash, ABC Local, September 14, 2009

Doctor surrenders medical license, Charlotte Observer, September 15, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Red-Light Running, Federal Highway Administration

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Child Passenger Safety Week Geared Toward Preventing Kid Injuries During Car Accidents

September 10, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

With 200,000 kids, 14 years of age and under, who were seriously injured in car accidents in 2007, it is no wonder that safety officials want to make sure that parents are doing everything to keep their kids safe—especially because much younger children, 7-years of age and under, need added protection to minimize risk of injury during an auto crash.

Child Passenger Safety Week runs from September 12 – 18, 2009. During this time, parents and other adults can check child safety seats for free at one of the thousands of free safety seat inspection stations in the US.

While research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the rate of child safety seat use is high—99% for babies (0-12 months), 92% for toddlers (1-3), and 89% for young kids (4-7)—these findings also reveal that 3 out of every four child safety seats are not used properly. These mistakes may affect the way the child is secured in the seat and the manner in which the restraint system is attached to the vehicle. For example, a parent might use a child restraint seat that is not appropriate for the child’s weight and age, fail to correctly install the restraint, not buckle the straps properly, or neglect to properly secure the seat belt to the child safety seat.

Injuries sustained by infants and young kids during a North Carolina car crash can be catastrophic. While properly securing a child can decrease the chances of injury during a serious motor vehicle accident, injuries may still occur if the restraint system was not used correctly, the child safety seat was defective, or the car crash was so catastrophic that injury or death was unavoidable despite all the safety precautions.

Car accidents can occur because someone was negligent or careless or reckless. Filing a Charlotte, North Carolina injuries to minor lawsuit for your son or daughter’s motor vehicle crash injuries can allow you to obtain the financial recovery that you need to pay for surgeries, hospital stays, doctor visits, rehabilitation services, and other necessary medical devices that your child might need following a car accident.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Launches Child Passenger Safety Week, NHTSA, September 10, 2009

Child Passenger Safety: Fact Sheet, CDC

Related Web Resources:
Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator

Minors, North Carolina General Statutes, Justia

Fatal Raleigh Car Crash Leads to Second-Degree Murder Charges Against Hit and Run Drunk Driver

September 2, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A 33-year-old Louisburg driver has been charged with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired (DWI), two counts of serious injury by vehicle, resisting arrest, hit and run resulting in serious injury or death, and driving with a revoked license. Cory Lamar Henderson was trying to pass a vehicle driven by John Edward “Eddie” Ogburn on Saturday when he allegedly caused the fatal Raleigh car accident.

Henderson is accused of fleeing the Raleigh crash site on Old Wake Forest Road but was apprehended soon after. Police say that prior to the traffic accident, they saw Henderson driving recklessly. They say that they were going to pull him over only the accident happened before they could catch him.

Ogburn was transported to a North Carolina hospital where he was pronounced dead. The deadly accident took place just one block from his home. The two women riding in the vehicle with him, 29-year-old Raleigh resident Kristen Knutson and 27-year-old Southern Pines resident Jennifer Ragone, sustained injuries.

Prosecutors upgraded one of the charges to second-degree murder because they say that there is evidence of malice. Henderson has a prior DWI conviction in Wake County that occurred in 2004. Following Saturday’s North Carolina car accident, he fled from police and attempted to avoid getting arrested.

This Raleigh car crash took place during the NHTSA’s safety efforts with local enforcement to apprehend anyone driving under the influence. During the 15 years that the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program has participated in this campaign, local law enforcement officials have issued some 2,900,000 criminal and traffic citations. 103, 000 of these citations were for people who were driving while impaired.

Despite efforts by the federal and local governments, law enforcement officers, and safety advocates to stop drunken motorists from driving, too many North Carolina drunk driving crashes continue to happen. An experienced Raleigh car accident lawyer can help you determine whether you and your family have grounds for pursing a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death case.

1 dead, 3 hurt in wreck; DWI charged, The News & Observer, August 30, 2009

Man charged with murder in fatal Raleigh wreck, WRAL, September 2, 2009

Related Web Resources:
2009 Labor Day Crackdown Activities, GHSA

Mothers Against Drunk Driving