MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lawmakers in Washington want to know why it took General Motors 13 years — and 13 deaths — to recall a faulty ignition switch.
It’s a question two local families have been asking for years. The mothers of 15-year-old Amy Rademaker and 19-year-old Natasha Weigel have been looking for answers ever since 2006, when the two teens died in a crash in St. Croix County Wisconsin.
“I just don’t understand how they can knowingly put those cars out and still let people drive them,” said Margie Beskau, Rademaker’s mother.
On Tuesday, General Motor’s CEO Mary Barra was grilled by a congressional committee, and she didn’t offer a lot of answers.
Barra became GM’s CEO less than three months ago, but she’s more recently become the face of a safety defect that has forced GM to recall 2.6 million cars.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Barra said. “We’re going to figure out what happened, and we are going to make sure it never happens again.”
As pictures of the 13 victims lined the back of the room hearing room, Barra promised to look for answers.
“Sitting here today, I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out,” she said.
When pressed for answers about the ignition switch — which flipped off too easily and never met GM’s own specifications — she fell back on the need for her own investigation.
Jayne Rimer, Weigel’s mother, was at the proceedings to speak for the victims.
“I’m here to speak for Natasha, who can’t speak for herself,” she said.
Rimer was outspoken while CBS News investigated the crash that killed Weigel and Rademaker.
Rimer’s husban spoke for all of the families that lost loved-ones when the switch malfunctioned.
“My wife Jane lost everything,” Ken Rimer said Tuesday. “Natasha was her only child.”
“GM knew it was wrong,” he added. “GM hid it during the bankruptcy proceedings, GM is liable for these young deaths.”
The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also testified about why that agency didn’t recall the ignition switch.
Both will testify in the Senate on Wednesday.