Armando Castroesteban, 58, Linda Gutierrez, 31 and 10-year-old Areli Castro were killed in a Riverside car accident after a tire tread separated on their 2004 GMC Envoy SUV, causing the vehicle to roll over and crash into a freeway median. According to a news report in the Whittier Daily News, the fatal car accident occurred the afternoon of August 16, 2009 on the 10 Freeway in Blythe, California. The SUV’s right rear tire tread separated causing the driver, Castroesteban, to lose control, California Highway Patrol officials said. The vehicle then, hit a dirt median and rolled over several times.

SUV Rollover Accident Causes Fatal Injuries

Castroesteban sustained fatal injuries and his daughter Gutierrez, who was a passenger in the rear left seat, was ejected from the SUV and killed. Areli, Castroesteban’s granddaughter, who was in the right rear seat, was partially ejected from the vehicle and killed as well. CHP investigators suspect Gutierrez and the child were not properly restrained in the vehicle. Areli’s brother Jared, 9, Castroesteban’s wife, Guadalupe Castro, 63, and Linda Gutierrez’s daughter, Yvette, 12, were the other passengers in the GMC Envoy who were hospitalized with injuries.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of these victims, who were tragically killed in this car accident. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved Armando Castroesteban, Linda Gutierrez and young Areli. Please keep them in your prayers. I wish the injured victims the very best for a quick and complete recovery.

We’ve been seeing a lot of auto products issues, particularly tire tread separation incidents, in the news lately and that is extremely worrisome. Rollover accidents kill about 10,000 people in the United States every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). SUVs are inherently unstable because they have a high center of gravity, which makes them top-heavy. So taking corrective action or performing a sudden maneuver can cause SUVs to rollover.

Tire Tread Separation, a Serious Vehicle Defect

However, in this case, the main cause seems to have been a defective tire. Tire tread separation causes tire blowouts, which in unstable vehicles, increases the possibility of rollovers. Even when there is no blowout, the driver often loses control when the tread and belt separate from the rest of the tire. This type of vehicle defect has caused numerous rollover accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.

The families of this fatal car accident will be well-served to hire an experienced California personal injury lawyer, who has a successful track record dealing with auto product liability issues. I believe that a thorough investigation by experts could produce evidence of auto product defects in the failed tire and design defects in the GMC Envoy, which together may be responsible for this rollover accident. The victims’ families will however, need to preserve the vehicle and the tires as evidence because without them, there is no real chance of proving the causes of this accident or who is at fault here.

I would also look more carefully at why two of the fatally injured passengers were ejected or partially ejected from the vehicle. As officials surmise at this point, the two passengers may not have been properly restrained. However, there is always the possibility that the seat restraint system failed. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will bring in an expert to find any evidence of failure in the seatbelt system.