A California State Highway Patrol officer and three family members were killed when their loaner Lexus ES350 crashed at 100 mph after its accelerator froze from a misplaced floor mat.
Toyota is now telling Lexus and Toyota dealers to inspect immediately their new, used, and loaner fleet vehicles to make sure that the driver side mat is the correct one for the vehicle and it is properly installed and secured.
The emergency order was made public after the San Diego Union-Tribune revealed its existence earlier this week.
Toyota has been accused of withholding information in lawsuits involving other accidents, and is under assault by plaintiff’s attorneys in multiple lawsuits.
Preliminary information from law enforcement investigators shows that the cause of the crash with four fatalities may have been an all-weather floor mat from a different Lexus model, which, if installed incorrectly in the ES350, could cause it to interfere with the accelerator pedal.
All-weather floor mats are installed by Toyota and Lexus dealers or customers as an accessory item.
On August 28, 2009, California Highway Patrol officer Mark Saylor and three members of his family, Cleofe, Mahala, and Cleofe’s brother Chris Lastrella died on a highway near San Diego California, while driving a 2009 ES350 lent to them by a local Lexus dealer.
One of the tragic questions thus far unresolved is why didn’t a trained police officer, who was on the phone to 911 when the accident occurred, simply put the car in neutral or press the large start-stop button to the right of the steering wheel?