If this pans out (Toyota gas pedal victim)

This story tells about a guy who’s currently serving an eight-year sentence after he rear-ended another car and killed three people. Bottom line is that even the prosecutors think the accident may have been due to Toyota’s now infamous faulty gas pedals.

If nothing else, and even without being familiar with the details of his case, there’s gotta be some ‘reasonable doubt’ about his guilt at this point. Makes me sick - not so much that Toyota may have killed people with its corporate pride (i.e. taking years to admit and fix the problem), although that, in itself, is obscene, but that an “innocent” man (maybe), a recent immigrant with a young family, has been fucked over like this.

I dunno.

First, it’s a 1996 vehicle and while the article makes mention of some recalls being made on those vehicles, it doesn’t specifically say that this vehicle was one of those being recalled. But even if it was, that was known information at the trial. These new problems with Toyota cars are just that: new problems. It didn’t effect what his defense knew or should have known about his specific vehicle.

Further, he hit the car - after applying the brakes and going UP an off-ramp - at 91 MPH? That’s insane. How fast was he going on the highway?

Well, if it was a case of uncontrolled acceleration he wouldn’t have had any control over the speeds he reached. Also, per the OP’s link, he was traveling at between 71 and 90 mph.

But didn’t he claim during the trial that the problem was that the brakes failed, not that the accelerator was wonky?

Yes, although in a situation where your foot is on the brake and the car is still accelerating out of control, I could see someone saying, “the brakes failed.” They did fail - to stop the car as expected.

I’m not saying this guy did legitimately have an out-of-control acceleration issue, I’m just saying that I don’t think that his having said “the brakes failed” is inconsistent with that.

He claimed that he applied the brakes and the car did not slow down. Once it was determined that the brakes were functioning normally, the “car did it” defense was pretty much a non-starter, since nobody would have thought of the uncontrolled acceleration thing.

ETA: Kind of what MsWhatsit said.

He claimed that the brakes didn’t work at all, though. It doesn’t matter how badly the accelerator is malfunctioning-if you stomp on the brakes, you will slow the vehicle down. Also, if the accelerator is going out of control and you apply properly working brakes fully at the same time, won’t this stress be detectable when the brakes are examined afterward? The report didn’t show that.

We don’t have his specific testimony, but I’m inclined to believe that at 70-90 miles per hour with the throttle wide open the difference between “slowing the vehicle down a bit” and “not slowing the vehicle down” is negligible.

There’s no particular reason that the brakes would show stress; obviously, the pads wear more quickly at 70 mph than at 20, but presumably he only travelled a few hundred yards at most under uncontrolled acceleration, which wouldn’t leave much evidence at all. The brake pads would certainly still be intact - remember, they’re designed to be engaged at 130 miles per hour and probably at much higher speeds than that.

ETA: for the record, I don’t think this is actually what happened. I’m just saying that if it did happen the results would be pretty consistent with brake failure.

A good friend of mine had a 2004 Toyota Matrix that she and her sister were involved in an accident in. She was a passenger and her sister was driving when a semi truck they were about to pass changed lanes in front of them unexpectedly. They both swear she tried to brake and there was no response from the brake pedal, the engine speed(RPM) didn’t change, and it was a brake failure. They ended up in a ditch because she steered around the truck, and totaled the vehicle. Luckily they walked away(which is a point in Toyota’s favor), but I’ve known these two ladies over half my life and they’re both very rational and reliable people. If one says she stepped on the brake and it didn’t work, and the other said she saw/felt through the floorboard, the attempt to step on the brake and it didn’t work, that’s pretty damning IMHO.

I told her she should dig up the documentation on the accident, including the police reports where she and her sister both testified to the brake failure, and put a bug in her insurance company’s ear about it, and contact her congresscritters too. As of now that model and year are not on the recall lists.

In a broader sense, there’s just no way I believe this is floor mats. The range of dates and models affected is just too broad.


The 1996 Camry isn’t on the recall list. So far, they’ve only recalled vehicles from the 2000’s.

From the OP’s link:

I would have assumed that if Lee’s car was subject to that recall it would have come up during the original trial, but it’s possible his attorney didn’t bother to check.

As a hijack of my own thread, and assuming he’s truly guilty, even of criminal negligence causing death, does eight years seem a bit harsh for what he did? I am assuming he had no record, wasn’t impaired etc.

I’ll also point out that this is a guy coming from church with his pregnant wife and four-year-old kid in the car. He simply doesn’t seem to be the type who would voluntarily be doing 90, or even 70 on an exit ramp.

Where you’re driving to or from, and what is in the car with you has little bearing on whether or not you’ll speed.

I’ve been in the car with a family (Mother driving, children in the back seat, father napping in the front seat), on a road trip with them, and the mom who was driving was doing an easy 95 mph on the highway in a minivan, not batting an eye. This is a woman who drive school buses, volunteers at local charities, her husband is a decan at the church, and she’s active in the Special Olympics.
Anyone can speed, anyone can be negligent.

This whole discussion has been repeated in at least two other threads elsewhere on SDMB.

As Really Not All That Bright has pointed out, you’re not likely to fry the brakes after only 200 yards of application.

One other point: with the engine at WOT, the driver may not have much (or any) vacuum-assist for the brakes. If you’ve ever tried backing your car down your driveway without starting the engine, then you’ve probably experienced just how little braking ability you have without the power assist.

By “this whole discussion”, I assume you mean about the brakes. I don’t think anyone else has posted about the guy I’m talking about.

Yes, that’s what he means. We had a GD thread and a GQ thread about the consequences/ likelihood of runaway Toyotage.

Moved from The BBQ Pit to Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share.

Pit Moderator