Fatal accident sparks debate at State Capitol


"Beyond words and beyond measure. We lost our beloved children and grandchild," said Fe Lastrella the victims' relative.

Lastrella's son was a passenger in an out-of-control Lexus that had an accelerator stuck at 120 mph. The 2009 crash killed all four people inside, including off-duty CHP officer Mark Saylor who was married to Lastrella's daughter.

The still-grieving mother wants California lawmakers to do something.

"My family's lives and the Saylor's lives were altered forever," she said.

Saylor was driving a 2009 Lexus the dealership had loaned him while his own vehicle was being serviced.

The stuck accelerator played a pivotal role in forcing Toyota to recall millions of cars with the same problem.

While federal law bans franchised car dealers from selling or leasing a new car that's under a safety recall, nothing stops them from loaning, renting or selling used cars where the repairs named in a recall haven't been done.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, is leading the charge with a proposal to fix that.

"And they shouldn't be on the road, especially if we know they're unsafe," she said.

The California New Car Dealers Association opposes the bill. It says the federal government is coming out with guidelines next week and wants California to wait to see if this law is even necessary.

The organization points out that the proposal is too broad because a recall doesn't always mean safety is compromised.

"The question becomes whether we should remove the vehicle out of the stream of commerce because of a door jamb sticker being mislabeled, because an owner's manual has been misprinted," said Cliff Costa of the CNCDA.

Critics also pointed out the proposal would not have helped the Saylors and Lastrellas because Toyota had not recalled that Lexus yet. The sticky accelerators were still an emerging issue back then.

Sensing tepid support that could kill the bill, the committee postponed the vote; clearly upsetting Lastrella.

"As a mother and a grandmother, I cannot comprehend why anyone would oppose this bill," she said.

The measure now becomes a two-year bill, which means it's on hold until January.

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