In an exclusive interview, the lone survivor of a crash that killed a local CHP officer and his family talked for the first time after NBC San Diego obtained a scathing sheriff’s report about the crash.
"It was just lights out, a heavy blow is what it felt like to me," Phillip Pretty of Santee said.
His SUV was hit from behind August 28 by a loaner Lexus going 120 miles hour, driven by CHP officer Mark Saylor. Also inside the car – Saylor’s wife Cleofe, 13-year-old daughter Mahala and brother in law Chris Lastrella.
The Lexus broke through a fence and struck a dirt embankment, catapulting it through the air more than 100 feet. All four inside the Lexus were killed.
Pretty suffered serious injuries to his head, shoulder and knee.
"I woke up two days later in the hospital," he said.
In the sheriff's department crash report; investigators determined that the gas pedal got stuck on the floor mat. It was made for an SUV and was too big for the car.
The report also claims that a man named Frank Bernard told investigators he drove that same car a few days before the deadly crash. He told investigators that the floor mat also got stuck underneath the gas pedal, but after a few tense moments, he was able to pull the mat out. The report claims he told the receptionist at Bob Baker Lexus of El Cajon what happened and that someone needed to fix the problem.
Investigators say after the crash, they interviewed the receptionist, 20-year-old Jessica Martin-Dunleavy. They say at first she didn't remember anyone complaining about the car. Then two weeks later, after investigators showed her a picture of Frank Bernard, she remembered that someone did say "the mat made the car go full throttle."
Investigators said she claimed that she told the detail specialist about the problem, but detectives say that detail specialist claims no one told him anything.
Pretty believes the crash could have been prevented.
"It shows a lot of stupidity on their (Bob Baker Lexus) part, they should be held accountable for that," Pretty said.
NBC San Diego is waiting for comment on the report from the attorney of Bob Baker Lexus.
After the crash, Toyota said it would recall more than 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because their design increases the risk that they could suddenly accelerate out of control.
Now, Toyota may have a problem with some of its cars stalling while being driven at freeway speeds. The LA Times reported Saturday that at least 26 Toyota Corolla and Matrix cars have stalled out while being driven. Read the document.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into the problem.
In addition, Toyota recalled 110,000 Tundra pickups because of a rust problem that could cause the spare tire to fall onto the road, creating a hazard for other vehicles.