BALTIMORE - A Maryland mother says no amount of money or apologies will bring her daughter back. The teen died in 2005 after crashing her General Motors car.
The air bag never went off.
It's a defect that affected 2.6 million cars. Thursday, GM released the findings of its internal investigation and blamed incompetence and negligence for waiting more than a decade to issue a recall for the faulty ignition switch. 15 employees have been fired, and five others disciplined for waiting so long to address the defective ignition switches. An issue blamed for at least 13 deaths, including a teen from Southern Maryland.
Back in July 2005, 16-year-old Amber Rose crashed her brand new Chevy Cobalt in Charles County. The airbags never deployed, and Amber died.
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"The EMTs at her funeral told us that if the airbags had deployed she would have been alive today, the only other injury she sustained was a cut on her lip," Laura Christian, Amber’s birth mother, said.
The Anne Arundel County woman said her daughter's death was all because of a General Motors defect. A faulty ignition switch can kill the engine, shut off the power assist to steering and brakes, and disable the airbags. An issue GM admits it knew about for at least ten years.
"We simply didn't do our job,” explained General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
“We failed these customers, and we must face up to it and we must learn from it."
The results of a three month internal investigation were released Thursday. The report found there was no sense of urgency about the issue. But there was no conspiracy to cover it up. Fifteen GM employees have been forced out of the company for failing to disclose the defect, and a compensation plan for victim's families will start accepting claims in August.
“First, we will do the right thing for those who were harmed,” Barra said. “Second, we’ll accept responsibility for our mistakes and commit to doing everything within our power to make sure this never happens again.”
The recalls started back in February and impacted 2.6 million small, older cars. Last month GM paid a $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to report the problem quickly to federal regulators.
"I want to express again my deepest sympathy to families who lost loved ones and those who were injured,” Barra added. “I realize that there are no words of mine that can erase their grief or their pain."
It's pain Christian wants to make sure no one else has to experience. She said the defect is a serious problem and she is appalled by the way the company handled it. GM is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice to determine if criminal charges are warranted.
"I know myself, and a lot of the other families, are really pushing and hoping that GM is held criminally liable for this"
The automaker doesn't expect the 2.6-million cars with the defect to be fixed until October. General Motors promises increased safety standards, and says there will likely be more recalls.