A Texas woman who became a convicted felon for causing a 2004 car crash that killed her fiancé has learned that General Motors (GM) counts the accident as one of 13 deaths it blames on its defective ignition switches.
Candice Anderson was driving her 2004 Saturn Ion in Canton, Texas, with her fiancé Mikale Erickson in November 2004 when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed. Mr. Erickson, the father of two small children, was killed. Ms. Anderson was thrown through the windshield and barely survived the crash herself. The vehicle’s airbags never deployed.
Police could find no causes for the crash – no skid marks or other evidence that would indicate why the crash occurred. Tests showed that Ms. Anderson was drug- and alcohol-free at the time of the crash. Tests showed that she had only a trace amount of anti-anxiety medication in her system at the time.
Still, authorities charged Ms. Anderson with manslaughter while she was recovering from severe injuries and mourning the loss of her fiancé. She pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide and received five years of probation. Her life has never been the same.
“…It’s been a question if I was at fault for his death, and I’ve carried it for so long,” Ms. Anderson told CBS News. She said that “every part of (her) life’s been affected from it,” because she has lived with the stigma of being a convicted felon in a small town for nearly a decade.
In May, Mr. Erickson’s mother, Rhonda Erickson, learned that her son’s death was one of the 13 GM had blamed on its faulty ignition switches, which could cause a sudden loss of power and subsequent loss of control. The defect potentially allows keys to jostle inside the switch, cutting power to the engine and resulting in a loss of power steering and anti-lock brakes. The power loss also deactivates the airbags.
In a letter to Ms. Erickson, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that her son’s death was one of the 13 GM attributed to the defective ignition switch. She told CBS News that GM has not apologized to her for the loss of her son.
“I think they owe me an apology,” she told CBS News. “They can’t give me my son back, but they could at least give me an apology.”
Ms. Anderson hopes that GM’s admission and the results of an investigation that found GM waited more than 10 years to recall vehicles with the faulty ignition switches will clear her record.