As the sun was setting on a stormy Georgia day, Brooke Melton was 30 miles outside of Atlanta in her Chevy Cobalt. It was March 10, 2010, her birthday, and the 29-year-old pediatric nurse was on her way to her boyfriend’s to celebrate.
Melton had purchased the white GM Cobalt in 2005, the year the four-cylinder compact first rolled out of factories, and lately it had been giving her trouble. A week earlier the engine had unexpectedly shut off. Melton managed to pull over to the side of the road and restart it, but the incident shook her. She phoned her father, who advised her to bring the car in to the local dealership. So she wouldn’t forget, Melton scribbled a list of the problems in a notebook: “Key locking in the ignition,” she wrote. “Suddenly shutting off while driving and unable to turn vehicle.” Under “strange knocking sound” she underlined “ignition problems.” Mechanics at the dealership assured her nothing was wrong, and after cleaning the fuel injection gave Melton back her car a few days later with a clean bill of health.
As dusk bled into darkness early the next evening, she was driving north over a stick-straight section of Highway 9 at 58 mph when it happened again. The Cobalt’s engine shut off and the lights inside and outside the car dimmed. Melton hit the brakes, but no power from the engine meant no anti-lock brakes and no power steering. The car fell into a skid. Tires squealing, the Cobalt’s back end fishtailed, coming up on her left. Melton instinctively spun the wheel counterclockwise.
Three and a half seconds after the engine quit, Melton was the reluctant driver’s seat passenger of a car hydroplaning sideways across the centerline. In the southbound late, bearing down at highway speed, was a gray Ford Focus driven by a 26-year-old man from nearby Acworth, GA, his two-year-old daughter strapped in the back.
The Focus plowed into the passenger side of Melton’s Cobalt: 3,000 pounds of steel, glass, plastic, and human smashing into three 3,000 pounds of steel, glass, plastic, and human. While Brooke’s lap belt glued her waist to the seat, her shoulder harness went slack the instant the engine shut off. As the side of her car caved in, Melton’s torso, neck, and head whipped violently to the right, the force equivalent to falling from the 16th floor of a building. The Cobalt spun around and was heaved 15 feet down a hill, ending up backward in a creek swollen with rainwater. Rescuers found Melton slumped over the steering wheel, her body submerged up to her shoulders.
Brooke Melton was not the first to crash her GM car after the engine stalled. Over the course of a decade, dozens of people died and scores more were injured on American roads. Four months earlier, Hasaya Chansuthus was heading home to Nashville in her 2006 Cobalt when she sideswiped another car, her engine shut off and the Cobalt raced off the highway. She was killed when her head struck the steering wheel. In 2009, an 11-month old baby was paralyzed and his grandmother and aunt were killed in Pennsylvania after the Cobalt’s engine turned off without warning and was hit by another car. Earlier that year, 81-year-old Marie Sachse lost control of her 2004 Saturn Ion outside of St. Louis and died eight hours later from internal injuries. In 2006, 18-year-old Natasha Weigel was a few miles from home in eastern Wisconsin when the engine quit and the Cobalt shot off the highway, killing Weigel and another teenager.
The article is long and it will make you cry (if you are human) And it will make you so mad at the socicopaths allowed to run things, make millions and kill the rest of us.
People at GM switched the switches without telling anyone. No process was in places to prevent them from doing this and even when notified, management chose cost over safety. Switches that killed people. Replacing them with new ones that had the same part number.
But apparently no one at GM knows why. So this was not a mistake but a coverup.
Even when GM did know, they took 5 months before recalling all the cars. And then did not have the parts needed. People continue to die after the recall.
And this was only discovered because a woman wrote a note before she died. Otherwise, people would still continue to die (perhaps 165 so far), others put in prison or bankrupted.
We have allowed our lives to be put in the hands of people with no morals, no ethics and no humanity. “GM nod?” Put them all in prison.
Make an example of them. I am so glad I have never owned a GM car. I never will. Screw them. So should the marketplace.