Dealership that owned runaway Lexus in fatal crash responds to report
In the wake of a damaging sheriff’s report, an El Cajon car dealership that owned the runaway Lexus which crashed and killed a family of four this past summer wants more research to discern the “true” facts and circumstances of the fatal crash, it was reported Wednesday.
Jim Marinos, attorney for Bob Baker Lexus El Cajon, said the sheriff’s department’s report released Friday “is only an interim perspective from the office of the Santee sheriff,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The 61-page sheriff’s report found off-duty California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor, his wife, Cleofe, both 45; their 13-year-old daughter, Mahala; and Saylor’s brother-in-law Chris Lastrella died Aug. 28 when the wrong-sized floor mat in their loaner car trapped the Lexus ES350′s gas pedal.
The Lexus was going about 100 mph on northbound state Route 125 through La Mesa when it slammed into the rear of a Ford Explorer, plowed over a curb and went through a fence before hitting an embankment and going airborne. The vehicle then rolled several times before bursting into flames in the San Diego River bed at Mission Gorge Road in Santee.
The sheriff’s report contained information released for the first time that a man who had driven the loaner car three days before the crash told a dealership receptionist that the gas pedal had become trapped while he was driving.
“We believe (the report) is only one local perspective, but must point out that there are far more complex issues of a broader scale that require further research and further analysis, including but not limited to the mechanical, technical and electronic systems of the Lexus ES350 vehicle,” Marinos told the Union-Tribune.
Marinos’ comments this week mark the first time anyone associated with the dealership has commented publicly on the crash.
John Gomez, attorney for the Saylor family, called Marinos’ comments “both puzzling and disappointing,” the Union-Tribune reported.
“‘We’re sorry’ would have sufficed for now,” Gomez told the newspaper.
Saylor had been given the loaner car after he brought his vehicle to the dealership for repair. The family called 911 moments prior to the crash to inform authorities that the car was accelerating on its own. The Lexus ES350 is a “keyless” car, which requires a driver to depress the “start” button for three seconds to turn off the engine.
The man who drove the vehicle three days prior to the fatal crash told investigators he tried several times to turn the engine off but couldn’t. His said he had put the car in neutral but the engine continued to race until he realized the mat was stuck and reached down to dislodge it.
Since the crash, Toyota, the maker of Lexus, to issue a massive recall of floor mats in more than 4 million vehicles.
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