POSTED: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 5:15pm
UPDATED: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 1:07pm
Van Zandt County, TX — A tragic accident in 2011 has now resulted in a major lawsuit.
And the target is America’s largest automaker.
As much as we like to think old American cars were built sturdier, the fact is there have been incredible advances in passenger safety.
But Attorney Todd Tracy contends two of them failed in a 2011 rollover of a Suburban carrying 6 Quitman High School FFA students and driven by a teacher. The crash occurred in Van Zandt County when the driver lost control.
All survived except 15-year-old Skylar Carpenter, who was ejected from the truck.
Rollover crashes involve incredible centrifugal forces, as this Ford test of an Expedition shows, and if a passenger is not belted they are almost certain to be thrown from the vehicle.
Tracy blames the seat belt mechanism, which he says failed to hold her in the truck, and the side curtain airbag which did not deploy properly.
This 2013 GMC Sierra I’m testing this week is built on the same platform as the 2007 Suburban.
The side curtain airbags are stored in the upper window molding and drop down in an impact to keep your head from hitting the side glass.
When they operate properly, side curtains are very effective.
So the issue seems to be, was Skylar Carpenter wearing a seatbelt and if so, did it and the airbag work?
The attorney says the belt unlatched.
We looked up all service bulletins and recalls on the 2007 Suburban.
The only mention of a seatbelt is the danger of sticky drinks being spilled on the buckle.
A statement from the parents of Skylar Carpenter can be found below.
Carpenter Response to Media Coverage of GM lawsuit (October 31, 2012):
“When asked why our family filed this lawsuit against GM, our message needs to be made clear. A legal action will not bring our 15 year old daughter back. However, the individuals asking such questions may not realize the impact of decisions. We are blessed to know Skylar made a decision at age 10 to get to know Jesus Christ as her personal savior.
Thankfully, by God’s unselfish grace, Skylar was eternally prepared for her earthly death that occurred on February 17, 2011 as a result of a car accident. A parent is never emotionally prepared for such an event. However, other big decisions were made that need to be addressed in our story. General Motors made bad decisions regarding vehicle safety that must not go ignored. It is not okay for companies to be complacent and negligent in their manufacturing efforts when it comes to safety features.
What if another teenager sits in a vehicle that is unsafe and that child is not ‘eternally ready?’ What if that is your teenager and their life is cut short as a result of a decision from someone else? Does my family stand silently and allow another family to endure this type of loss because GM is a large corporation? Is that the right thing to do because it is easier to ignore errors than to face public giants?
Our family feels a constant sting of our tragic loss. Thankfully our sting can only be comforted by God’s grace and the blessed assurance that we will reunite with Skylar in Heaven. The loss of a 15 year old child gives us an urgency to send out messages to others. We want individuals to hear the message of Jesus Christ and recognize that our journey here can change in an instant.
Skylar lived her life trying to help others and show and share the love of Jesus with others. Maybe the story of our 80 lb. blonde hair, blue eyed daughter who loved Jesus can help others by facing a big giant like GM. Holding them accountable to make the right decisions to protect and keep occupants of their vehicles safe.
David didn’t allow his fear and judgment of others to keep him from standing up to his giant, Goliath. This lawsuit is not about monetary gain, it is about the urgency of eternal awareness, how temporary this life can be and how decisions (both spiritual and decisions made by man) can change lives.
We have a powerful, sovereign God who knows our thoughts, knows our decisions before we make them, knows our hearts and ultimately knows our actions even if they are wrong. He is also a loving God who gives us free will and allows us to make choices.
GM is a giant who made a bad decision. They made bad choices that need to be corrected. No lawsuit can reverse their past choices but hopefully this action will prompt them to make the right choice in the future so that others are not injured or perish because of such decisions.”
Becky Carpenter (Skylar’s Mom)