— Most owners affected by the General Motors defective ignition switch recalls will only have to go through the trouble of making a dealer appointment and waiting to have their cars repaired. An inconvenience for sure, but for some GM owners their lives have been affected by defective GM cars in ways much larger than a simple inconvenience.
One of those owners is Texas resident Candice Anderson, who lived years believing her actions caused the death of her fiance, Gene Mikale Erickson.
Mr. Erickson, 25 at the time, was killed in 2004 when Anderson's 2004 Saturn Ion left the road and crashed head-on into trees. Anderson, 21 at the time, thought her driving was to blame and authorities thought the same thing based on the fact no skid marks were found on the road. Crash investigators also discovered both the driver and passenger air bags failed to deploy.
Tortured by guilt and herself seriously injured, Anderson was charged with negligent homicide and pleaded guilty. She was ordered to pay for Erickson's funeral, perform 260 hours of community service, pay $3,500 in court costs, and she was sentenced to 5 years of deferred punishment on the felony charge.
Fast-forward 10 years and the Saturn Ion Anderson was driving is named among the millions of GM cars recalled with ignition switches that can move out of the "run" position from a simple bump in the road. Once the key is moved, all power steering and brakes are lost, along with the ability of the air bags to deploy in a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has confirmed at least 13 deaths and 50 accidents related to the defect, with Gene Erickson listed among the 13 fatalities.
Candice Anderson has now sued GM claiming GM knew at the time the switch was the cause of the crash, yet the automaker let Anderson take the blame to hide the defect from the public.
Anderson is also asking for a full pardon, and in a show of good faith the former prosecutor in the case is asking the state of Texas to pardon Anderson. Leslie Poynter Dixon, the former Van Zandt County district attorney, said Anderson would have never been convicted if the facts would have been known.
“I believe (GM’s defect) caused her vehicle to seize up, locking her steering and making any control of her vehicle impossible. Based upon what I now know these issues were the direct cause of the loss of control of the vehicle,” Dixon said. “It is my opinion that no action or omission of Ms. Anderson was the cause of the accident that led to her criminal charges. Had I known at the time that GM knew of these issues and has since admitted to such, I do not believe the Grand Jury would have indicted her.”
GM has not publicly responded to Candace Anderson's lawsuit.