On Saturday, the driver of a car doing warm-up laps at Marysville Raceway Park lost control of the car, causing it to hit a slope, launch into the air and crash into pit row, where it hit and killed two bystanders. One of those bystanders was the 17-year-old driver’s cousin.
Now, authorities are investigating whether a steering wheel defect caused the fatal racetrack accident. The driver told investigators that the steering wheel came off while he was driving, causing him to lose complete control of the car. Questions surround whether the quick-release mechanism on the steering column malfunctioned. This mechanism allows a driver to remove the steering wheel while exiting the car, but steering wheels rarely — if ever — come off by accident.
Should the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department find that a steering wheel defect caused the fatal accident, the manufacturers of the car and steering wheel may be held accountable for the deaths. While no amount of money can ever compensate a family for its loss, auto defect litigation can help a family find financial security during this difficult time.
If the steering column was not defective, investigators will look to other potential causes of the accident, such as driver error, maintenance issues and problems with the racetrack. The driver, while young, is experienced. According to his father, his family has been racing cars for four generations. Furthermore, the racecar was new, which could rule out maintenance problems. Finally, the dirt racetrack appeared to be in good condition.
Like any accident, however, there may be details that do not get reported by media and affect the investigation. We can only hope that the families who have lost their loved ones will have answers soon.
Source: Associated Press, “Calif. Raceway Crash Probe Looks At Steering Wheel,” Terence Chea, Mar. 18, 2013
Please visit our website on California auto product liability to learn more about auto defect litigation.