Driver Gets 51 Years to Life in Orange County Car Accident that Killed Nick Adenhart

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An Orange County Superior Court Judge sentenced 24-year-old Andrew Thomas Gallo to 51 years to life in prison in connection with the DUI collision that killed Angeles pitcher Nick Adenhart, 22, Henry Pearson, 25, and Courtney Stewart, 20, The Orange County Register reports. The April 12, 2010 car accident in Fullerton also left Jon Wilhite, 24, with major injuries. Gallo was, who was found guilty back in September, driving with a suspended driver’s license after a 2006 DUI conviction, and, with a blood alcohol concentration that was three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent at the time of the fatal car accident.

Fatal Hit-and-Run Car Accident

Gallo drove his parents’ minivan through a red light at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street after a night of drinking and struck the Mitsubishi Eclipse carrying Adenhart and the others. Not only did Gallo get drunk, drive, hit and kill three young people and seriously injure another, but he and his companion also abandoned their vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Gallo was convicted of second-degree murder, drunk driving and hit-and-run.

Driver Sought in Fatal Sacramento Hit-and-Run Car Accident

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Police are searching for the driver involved in a fatal Sacramento hit-and-run car accident. According to a KCRA news report, the pedestrian accident occurred on Greenback Lane in Citrus Heights the night of December 27, 2010. The victim was crossing Greenback when a light-colored compact car struck him. The driver fled the scene of the car accident and the pedestrian suffered fatal injuries. Police say that the suspect vehicle has front-end damage and are looking for any information about the vehicle or the driver.

My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the victim of this tragic pedestrian accident. My thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

According to California Highway Patrol’s 2008 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), 23 people were injured in Citrus Heights pedestrian accidents. During that same year, there were 20 fatalities and 461 injuries reported due to Sacramento County pedestrian accidents.

Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident

It is illegal in California to leave the scene of a car accident. California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

Did GM Fail to Recall Saturn Ions for Power Steering Issues?

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Federal investigators are looking into numerous vehicle defect complaints about the 2007 Saturn Ion, involving electric power steering failures. According to a news report in the New York Times, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) received more than 600 complaints relating to the 2007 Saturn Ion. The federal auto safety agency is now investigating whether General Motors should have recalled about 384,000 Saturn Ion coupes and sedans as part of a larger recall earlier this year. In March, GM recalled more than a million 2005-2010 Chevy Cobalt vehicles and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 vehicles due to similar power steering problems.

Auto Product Liability Complaints Soar in 2010

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In 2010, few businesses got hit harder for products liability than the auto industry. Ironically, vehicles made today are practically rocket ships compared to the death traps unleashed merely a decade ago. Toyota’s accelerator catastrophe has made defective products a hot topic, everyone has an opinion and consumers are outraged. This has led to a severe increase in complaints, which we can only hope will lead to a higher level of integrity by auto manufacturers.

Toyota’s Defective Products Under Fire

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received more than 40,000 complaints through December 14, according to an analysis by automotive research firm That’s four times the volume of recent years.

“People are now more aware that there is an agency called NHTSA and that you can complain to it. Complaints are a good thing,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director for Auto Safety.

General Motors Recalling Vehicles for Airbag and Rear Axle Issues

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General Motors is issuing vehicle defect recalls for Cadillac CTS models due to airbag sensor issues and several other 2011 models for a potential issue with a rear axle. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the first recall involved 109,000 Cadillac CTS models from 2005 to 2007. In these vehicles, a kink or bend in the front passenger presence sensor can prevent the passenger airbag from deploying in the event of a car accident.

The auto maker is also recalling more than 1,200 Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevy Avalanche, Silverado LD and GMC Sierra LD vehicles from the 2011 model year due to problems with a rear axle cross pin that could break or shift out of position. This could cause the axle to lock and caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Dangerous and Defective Autos

Both these auto product defects are extremely serious and have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. Airbags have become an integral part of our automobiles. We have come to depend on airbags, whether they are front airbags or side curtain airbags, to offer us an extra layer of protection in the event of a car accident. Failure on the part of airbags to deploy can cause serious injuries because the occupant of a vehicle is left unprotected in the event of a car accident.

Inadvertent Airbag Deployment Prompts Chrysler Recall

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Chrysler has issued a vehicle defect recall for about 367,500 Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, all from the 2008 model year, because of an improper water drainage issue with the heating and air conditioning system (HVAC) that could cause sudden airbag deployment. According to a report in The Car Connection, the improper drainage system allows water to drip onto the floor in the cabin.

Sudden Airbag Deployment

Chrysler officials say they did not initially treat this as a safety issue until they realized that the dampness was getting to an airbag switch and causing inadvertent deployment of the airbags. Chrysler has received notice of 15 inadvertent airbag deployments and one minor injury from 2008 through June 2010. Since June, the auto maker has received 15 additional complaints and four more minor injuries. When the recall begins in February, Dodge and Chrysler will replace the faulty HVAC draining system at no charge. Officials say the problem was caused by an “improperly assembled HVAC drain grommet.”

Problems Relating to Faulty Airbags

Since 1997 more than four million vehicles have been recalled due to airbag defects. In addition, there have been millions of formal airbag defect complaints made that did not result in recalls. The two major problems include: non-deployment and inadvertent deployment. Inadvertent airbag deployment appears to be used as the main reason for recalls, however, the complaints made by motorists consists mainly of problems related to non-deployment.

Ford Windstar Minivan Recall Expanded for Defective Rear Axle

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Ford Motor Company is being accused by a car accident victim’s family of dragging its feet on a vehicle defect recall involving rear axles that can corrode and break. According to an Associated Press news report, Ford this month expanded its recall for Ford Windstar vans after increasing complaints about the rear axle. The family of Sean Bowman, who was killed in a car accident after the rear axle in his minivan cracked and caused him to lose control of the vehicle, says they got the safety recall notice from Ford a week after Bowman’s tragic car accident. Bowman’s family and other safety experts are saying that Ford “failed to give the recall the urgency it deserved.”

Delayed Recall?

Bowman’s wife, Justine, is calling this a “stealth recall,” but Ford officials are saying that the recall was no secret. There is no question that this is a serious product defect with the potential to cause the minivan’s rear axle to break and trigger a deadly car accident. Ford officials say that the recall announcement in August was carried by a number of media outlets. The auto maker also said individualized letters were sent out to vehicle owners. The law requires auto makers to notify consumers within a reasonable amount of time, typically 30 days.

Honda Passport SUVs Recalled for Suspension Problems

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Honda has issued a vehicle defect recall for more than 35,000 of its Passport SUVs because the suspension brackets could fail after salt corrosion. According to a news report, the trailing link brackets for the car’s suspension could come off the vehicle’s frame after contact with excessive amounts of road salt. This could cause the vehicle to go out of control and lead to a potential car accident. This suspension problem affects Passport SUVs, which were manufactured between 1998 and 2002. Honda officials say a “few incidents” occurred as a result of these vehicle defects, but none of those incidents involved injuries or deaths.

Several auto makers have had serious problems with salt corrosion. Most recently Ford recalled thousands of Windstar vans where salt corrosion could cause the rear axle to break. This auto product defect proved deadly for Sean Bowman whose car went out of control when the rear axle broke.

Salt Corrosion Problems

In April of this year, Toyota recalled about 600,000 Sienna minivans, model years 1998 through 2010, because of potential corrosion in the spare tire carrier cable. In these vehicles, there was the potential for the carrier cable to fail causing the spare tire to fall off the vehicle posing a road hazard for other vehicles.

Toyota to Pay $32 Million More in Fines for Safety Violations

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Toyota Motor Corporation, which has already paid an unprecedented $16.4 million in government fines for its deficient handling of safety recalls relating sudden acceleration problems in its vehicles, has been slapped with two more fines relating to other issues. The new $32.4 million fines bring the grand total of Toyota’s penalties to $48.8 million, according to a news report in USA Today.

Toyota has agreed to pay the additional civil penalties as the result of two separate investigations involving defective steering rods. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has alleged that Toyota failed to comply with the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act for reporting safety defects to the federal agency.

Investigations Reveal Culture of Secrecy

The first investigation, which resulted in a $16.3 million fine, involved nearly 5 million vehicles with gas pedals that can become entrapped by faulty floor mats. Toyota’s initial recall of 55,000 floor mats in 2007 was deemed insufficient. NHTSA’s investigation found that the auto maker should have redesigned the gas pedal. The federal agency also determined that Toyota did not notify the government appropriately within the required time with those issues.

New Jersey Environmental Attorney Working Hard to Shut Down Dangerous Nuclear Power Plants

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Every so often we hear about attorneys who work so diligently for public justice that they achieve a hero-like status. Richard Webster is just such a personal injury attorney.

Richard Webster has worked diligently since 2005 to shut down the country’s oldest operational nuclear power plant. The Oyster Creek Nuclear Reactor has operated well beyond the time frame in which it was designed to safely function. The reactor at the Oyster Creek facility is forty years old and metal fatigue and containment system corrosion are serious safety concerns for such old reactors. The reactor also has no cooling towers, but instead uses a system of sucking water directly from Barnegat Bay and then discharging the water again. Despite these concerns, in 2009 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to allow the plant to operate another 20 years with no stipulations that the company make necessary safety adjustments or limit the toxic chemicals in the air.

Richard Webster represents a coalition of citizens groups and environmental groups that took the NRC and Exelon Corporation to court to shut down this dangerous power plant. A small victory was achieved last week when the company agreed to shut down the plant ten years ahead of schedule. This will make the water and air safer for the citizens of New Jersey and save the lives of billions of aquatic sea creatures such as shrimp, fish and crabs.

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