Deadly Accident Prompts Floor Mat Warning

A CHP officer and 3 family members were killed.

By Susan Taylor
|  Tuesday, Sep 15, 2009  |  Updated 8:05 PM PDT
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Friends ID CHP Officer, Family as Crash Victims

An aerial image shows the wreckage Friday, August 28.

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Deadly Accident Prompts Floor Mat Warning

An accelerator stuck on a floor mat may have caused a tragic crash that killed a CHP officer and his family.
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An accelerator stuck on a floor mat may have caused a tragic crash that killed a CHP officer and his family. Now, Lexus and Toyota are telling customers how a simple inspection could save their lives.

Mark Saylor, 45, his wife Cleofe, 45, their daughter Mahala, 13 and brother-in-law Chris Lastrella, 38, died in the August 28 crash on Highway 125 in Santee.

Witnesses reported seeing a Lexus weaving through traffic at a high rate of speed. The driver tried to make a left turn, but he was going too fast and struck a Ford Explorer. The Lexus broke through a fence and struck a dirt embankment, catapulting it through the air more than 100 feet.

The vehicle landed in dense vegetation near a riverbed and caught fire.

The 2009 Lexus ES 350 was a loaner from Bob Baker Lexus El Cajon.  Investigators said it was equipped with all-weather mats, designed for Lexus vehicles made between 2004 and 2009.  

The thick, all weather floor mat may have caused the crash by jamming the Lexus gas pedal to the floor.

So Toyota and Lexus dealerships are now checking floor mats in every car, truck and SUV. The company says other automakers, independent garages and car owners should do the same.

One mechanic says "aftermarket" floor mats, purchased at auto parts stores, can be a problem.

"They don't fit perfect. They usually don't have anything to hold them into place," Fred Webb with Toyota/Lexus Care. "They have a tendency to slide forward and get underneath the pedals and have a tendency to cause problems there."

Toyota and Lexus issued a safety recall two years ago, invoving all-weather floor mats in the 2007 and 2008 Toyota Camry and Lexus ES sedan.

In a 911 call made from inside the car just before the crash, a man can be heard telling the emergency dispatcher "We're in trouble. There's no brakes." The dispatcher asks if they are able to turn off the car. While the dispatcher is trying to help the caller, you can hear the man say the car is approaching an intersection. Next, the passengers tell each other to hold on and someone in the car tells the others to pray.

Saylor was driving the car according to investigators. All of the victims died from blunt force trauma either to the head or torso. The county's medical examiner declared all deaths as the result of an accident.

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