MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Investigators are trying to figure out if seat belts could be faulty on a Polaris-made vehicle.
The vehicle in question is the three-wheeled Slingshot. Now, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation is underway.
When the Slingshot debuted, the appeal was easy to see — a street legal, three wheeled adrenaline inducing ride. For motorcycle lover Kord Kostich of Lavonia, Michigan, after a conversation with his wife, it seemed a natural fit.
Kord’s brother Kim tells WCCO, “He decided on a Slingshot with her urging because it had roll bars, and a cage around you and it offered protection,” Kord’s brother Kim said. “At least they thought so — as it turned out, they didn’t.”
As Kim now knows, everything can change in an instant.
“One minutes he’s here, everything’s fine. The next minute we get the call, he’s gone,” Kim said.
Kord’s Slingshot collided with another car. After the crash — the driver’s seat appears to be in tact. Kim says the photos show Kord’s seat belt retractor exploded, released from its mounts and allowed the seat belt to release.
“Polaris didn’t seem, in my mind, to show any interest in making a correction,” Kim said.
Kord passed away six months before he was set to retire. The grandfather, known for his seven-day-a-week work schedule and generosity, was gone.
Kim filed a federal complaint with the NHTSA along with 22 other Slingshot owners, though none of the others were related to seat belts. Polaris responded with a statement saying, in part:
“We extend our deep condolences to the rider’s family. At Polaris, the safety of our riders is our absolute top priority. We are fully cooperating with the NHTSA investigation, as well as conducting our own investigation, which is our standard practice.”
“If something good comes from the tragedy we suffered — yes, that’d be great,” Kim said.
The last recall of Slingshots was in June for a possible problem with rear traction control.
Another company manufactures the seat belts for Polaris — Key Safety Systems, Inc. They did not respond to our request for comment.
You can read all the paperwork on the NHTSA’s investigation online.