KIMT News 3 – Friends and families from across the country, including our area, are testifying on Capitol Hill claiming General Motors cars were to blame for their loss.
Almost eight years have passed since Natasha Weigel of Albert Lea lost her life in a tragic accident, but today, her family is putting their efforts toward holding those accountable.
Holding back tears of his own, Ken Rimer, Natasha’s step-father speaks on her behalf.
“My wife Jane lost everything, Natasha was her only child. There will be no boyfriend troubles, no wedding day jitters, no children for Natasha or grandchildren for Jane. No family member to care for her as she grows older, just a forever whole in a heart for the daughter she so loved,” said Rimer.
That night back in 2006, the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt Natasha was in, suddenly lost all power which locked the steering wheel, power brakes and deactivated the safety airbags.
In all, Natasha and her friend Amy Rademaker died from injuries and one other passenger still has a disability physical and mental injuries.
“I want them to be accountable for what they’ve done I want them to take responsibility for what they’ve done to all these families and all that we’ll never have,” said Terry DiBattista, mother of victim.
According to reports, General Motors knew about defective ignition switches on their cobalt models but didn’t issue any recalls until this year.
Since then, 13 deaths and hundreds of crashes are being linked to the same problem.
“My sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall. Especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry,” said Mary Barra, CEO of GM.
Even with an apology, families say this is a matter of reassuring this never happens again.
“Natasha and Amy will not be forgotten and we must protect other families from these types of tragedies,” said Rimer.
So far there is no word on how GM plans to repay these families for their loss, but according to one area attorney, the number of families speaking out now, may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Those with the Department of Justice say they are opening a criminal investigation into what General Motors may have known about their defective cobalt series prior to these crashes.
Even if that means millions of dollars in future compensation.
“They’ve got to deal with each claim individually as they come down. Wherever the accident happened, there will be a piece of litigation. Whether it happens in Alaska or Arkansas or Washington State or Washington DC, there will be an action to try to resolve the issues,” said Joel Yunek, Attorney with Yunek Law Firm.