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June 12th, 2012
04:06 PM ET

Sisters Die in Recalled Rental Car Wreck

Eight years ago, two sisters died in a car accident on their way home from visiting their mom in California.  It was later discovered the rental car they were driving had been recalled, but had not been repaired.  Now, their mother, Cally Houck, is joining forces with California Senator Barbara Boxer to urge the government to improve rental car safety.  They tell Brooke they hope rental car companies will sign a pledge to keep recalled cars off the road until the defects have been remedied.

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Filed under: Anchors • Brooke Baldwin
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Michael

    The point of this law is good, but check the evidence of this particular case... An actual connection between the recalled component and the accident were never found...

    June 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  2. Hmm

    Its sad her daughters passed but why did she wait 8 years to start this....

    June 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  3. Grandpa RD

    This is an incomplete story. I'd like to know exactly what happened to result in these 2 people to be killed. Was is driver error? We may never know.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  4. Skeptic10787

    Noble idea, but missing a vital point... that crash obviously wasn't caused by the problem in the recall. The car swerved, hit a big rig, then burst into flames from the impact. Power steering fluid dripping on hot metal wouldn't cause the car to veer into the other lane, even if it lost all power steering control. I agree that rental cars shouldn't be in service until recalls are fixed, but when you argue that point by placing blame where it doesn't belong, the real issue is minimized.

    June 18, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  5. AJ

    Skeptic10787 I don't believe that they are trying to place blame unnecessarily. Yes, there are questions that need to be answered regarding the accident, but there is also the question of "If the company had taken to steps to have this car recalled would the accident still have occurred?" which is the ONE question plaguing the mother trying to piece her life together. Why did it take 8 years? Maybe she had a very difficult time in the years after her two daughters died, maybe she didn't even have the idea until a therapy session.. there are many reasons to wait. The fact that she waited at all shows obvious thought in the matter, rather than someone immediately going after a company, she took to time to absorb all that occurred then acted. It's very rational, and I prefer it to someone who just looks for going after a dollar. She is obviously on a journey to improve the safety conditions for all of us, who doesn't want another person to suffer the way she did. And on that note I also commend Hertz for recognizing the importance of such a pledge. All they want is rental companies to do the right thing regarding car recalls. It's not hard, it's not rocket science, and it will keep their customers safe, as well as anyone else on the road that could possibly be affected by a defective car.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  6. Bill

    Is there any correlation between the recall and the cause of the accident? The article doesn't really state that.

    June 25, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  7. IH

    Agree with everyone on the point that the crash wasn't related to the recall.

    Another point is that rental car companies will repeatedly contact renters who are driving a recalled vehicle to bring the car back for a switch out. They'll also attempt to meet the renter for the same. If the renters do not respond and are unreachable, the fault cannot wholly lie with the rental car company.

    June 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Steve

    A tragic loss no doubt; and my condolences to Cally. However, anyone with common sense knows that "experts" can and are bought every day when it comes to trials. It is also known that companies will pay out huge sums to mitigate a bad situation. That said, the legislation being proposed is good. The circumstances surrounding the accident are questionable.

    The PT cruiser has conventional "power assisted" steering. At highway speeds the power steering does almost nothing; it's main purpose is for low speed situations that require greater steering effort. As long as the car has a conventional mechanical steering rack and steering box a total loss of power assist, as might occur in a fire, will not, ever, in any way cause a car to veer dramatically into oncoming traffic. The steering wheel is mechanically coupled to the rack and as such the front tires still take their input directly from the driver. Tragic accident, but it makes no sense that it would be related to leaking power steering.

    I hope all the proceeds were donated to a worthy cause.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Jerry

    What kind of company would knowingly rent defective cars? Thank God for bottom feeding lawyers! These companies will get what they deserve.

    July 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
  10. car rental insider

    as an employee of a car rental company, we try our best to go out of our way to make sure recalled cars are not rented. If they are on rent before the recall is issued, we will take every avenue that is avail to us to get that unit off the road. If we don't, we, the rental agent who rented, are terminated. For those who say that car rental companies do not or knowingly rent recalled cars, are giving out false information and are as bad as those "bottom feeder" lawyers.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Lynne

    There is a clause in the agreement when you go to rent the do an official walk around with the rental agent and ask questions..this is a requirement by law to rent those vehicles..I have noticed that in many cases if the rental agent on the premises has ten customers to rent cars to and Enterprise at small locations has 1-2 rental agents on the premises..if Joe is gone the schmucatelli has to stay if during the walk around part most of the time they give the keys to the customer and say go check it out its around back if you have questions come see me..just so they can get to the next customer..the problem is that in this particular have two people that died and just supposedly that it had a recall on it and I agree if its on the road and then the recall comes in you have to wait till the car is returned then get it fixed however most rental companies will call the consumer and let them know hey that its recalled now if I am the consumer most of the time Im not going to bother myself with bringing that vehicle back unless its safety related..and half the time they will wait till that day when they do return. Have you ever asked yourself a question..what would I do in that I going to rent a car drive 400-600 miles then get notified to bring the car back? am I going to come back? nope..and also They swerved and hit a tractor trailor..come on amount of recall is going to matter in this case..they hit head on into a truck and amount of safety preventative maintenance measures on that vehicle would have kept those two sisters from is very sad but no amount..would have and even though these vehicles are equipped to keep us mostly safe..almost any vehicle is and can be a death trap if driven unexpectedly in the wrong direction. The same with can follow the rules and maintenance schedule but you cannot predict catastrophic accidents of this nature even in the best of circumstances..I am sure the point will be well validated but without knowing the content of the case or the internal processes cannot form accurate judgement of either side..but I will say there is a contract..there is a spot you sign..there is a place that calls for vehicle checks..that covers those rental cars..I suggest everyone read attention to that clause and ask the right questions. I know for myself when I rent a vehicle I go over everything..include asking about recalls and maintenance schedule. Imagine the consumer asking the right should not be put on all the rental companies..its not only the responsibility of the consumer but the responsibility of the company..BOTH should own that..but this is just my humble opinion on this..

    July 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  12. musings

    To my knowledge, the rental car company is liable if they received a notice from the automobile manufacturer of a recall and they did not act on it. The accident which followed may or may not be causally related to the recall, but the burden of proof has shifted because the company was in violation of the rental agreement and of normal safety requirements. That means a plaintiff does not have to prove causality, only the fact that Enterprise knowingly rented out a vehicle it knew from the recall notice to be defective. If there's any issue, it might be how serious the defect was to someone driving the car. The fact is, the rental company engaged in grossly negligent maintenance of this vehicle.

    I would not be such an apologist for the rental car company. They were not following good procedures and they were endangering their customers.

    July 5, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  13. mpkc376

    I rented a car just a few weeks ago and had a problem with it, when I contacted the rental company they stated "Oh, that's a known recall, it just must not have been fixed yet" When I inquired as to what I was supposed to do with the car, the sales person simply stated that he would make a note on my account. After I returned the car instead of refunding my rental, they reduced it by one day and promised an upgrade on my next rental. While this was not a life threatening recall, it made me wonder what else had been recalled that had not been repaired.

    July 9, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  14. getupfront

    It is really sad and a tragic loss, Rental car companies should take care of safety and various aspects, Thank god..!!! Getup front take cares of e berthing from breakdown to servicing or maintenance, as I was earlier associated with them as a driver.

    October 1, 2016 at 2:24 am |
  15. Lamont Wehn

    March 6, 2021 at 2:20 pm |

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