By Miriam Raftery
March 21, 2014 (Santee) - A 911 call tape from August 29, 2009 reveals the terror experienced by California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and his family when the accelerator jammed in the Lexus vehicle Saylor was driving that night on State Route 125 in Santee.M
Moments later, the loaner vehicle they were in struck a Ford Explorer and burst into flames, plummeting over an embankment and into the San Diego River. Saylor, along with his wife, his 13-year-old daughter, and his brother-in-law were burned beyond recognition.
Now, the U.S. Justice Department has announced that Toyota will pay $1.2 billion to settle a criminal case and investigation that arose from the quadruple fatality crash here in Santee. Toyota has previously agreed to pay $10 million to the Saylors’ remaining family members.
According to the Justice Department, Toyota deceived federal regulators about the cause of sticking accelerators in Lexus and Toyota vehicles. The company claimed the problem had been solved during a recall. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, Toyota made misleading statements to consumers and Congress instead of promptly disclosing the real problems.
The company is now facing class action lawsuits over its accelerator problems.
After the deadly crash in Santee, Toyota recalled millions of vehicles in two separate recalls, for sticking accelerators and for a floor mat that Toyota indicated could cause the accelerator to become stuck. But those remedies came too late for Officer Saylor and his family.