LYNDHURST -- The family of a Lyndhurst woman who died in a car crash believes their loved one would still be alive, if General Motors had issued a recall of the car years earlier.
Amy Breen, 42, died in a violent car crash on Ridgebury Blvd. in October 2007. Lyndhurst Police Lt. David Strasshofer says witnesses saw her slumped over the steering wheel in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt, as it traveled as fast as 70 miles per hour on the residential road.
The car flew off the road, hitting a post, garbage cans, a guardrail and two trees.
"We had wondered if she had a seizure," said Breen's sister, Maureen Wahl. "Because she's had them before."
However police noticed right away, that despite a solid, front-end hit -- the airbag in Breen's car never deployed.
"If we're looking for some sort of mechanical issue, I would say, 'Yes, there's something wrong with the airbag not deploying,'" said Lt. Strasshofer.
Breen's car is among 2.6 million cars that GM is now recalling, for faulty key ignitions that can slip out of the "run" position while the car is being driven, shutting down the car's power brakes, power steering, and airbags. GM has linked ignition problems to at least a dozen deaths.
"A 10, 12 dollar part could have saved her life, is what we think," said Wahl.
As first reported by Automotive News, GM reportedly decided to redesign the switch in April 2006, 18 months before Breen's crash. But the company did not issue a simultaneous recall of the affected cars.
Wahl can't help but wonder if that decision cost her sister, her life.
In a federal lawsuit against GM filed in California, attorneys claim that GM knew about the faulty ignitions and deliberately hid the problem from car owners and federal regulators for years. It cites Breen's death as one of the consequences of GM's actions.
However, Breen's family is currently not involved in any lawsuits against GM. But with these latest developments, they are considering what legal action they may take.
"It's just like Amy -- that's just what she'd want us to do, to be persistent, " said Wahl. "She'd want us to find out what really happened."