Safety Board: ‘Recalled tire caused Lake City church van tragedy in 2014’

Posted on: December 1, 2015

(via FCN)

LAKE CITY, Fla. — A church van tire that blew out near Lake City last year, causing a deadly rollover crash that killed two people and injured eight more, was subject to a manufacturer recall, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators, who concluded the tire blowout was the probable cause of the crash, also placed blame on the vendor that sold the church the tire for not providing a tire registration form and for mailing the recall notice to an outdated address.

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“Contributing to the severity of the injuries was the nonuse of available seat belts,” the NTSB added. Just one person inside the van, a 12-year-old, was wearing a seat belt when the van, owned by First Baptist Church in New Port Richey, overturned on Interstate 75 near U.S. 90 outside Lake City Feb. 21, 2014.

The van had been making a 445-mile trip to Covington, Ga. when it happened, according to the NTSB. After driving about 161 miles, the driver noticed a vibration coming from one of the tires and stopped to inspect it and call a church chaperone. When he couldn’t find anything visibly wrong with the tire, the driver continued on I-75 North. But 13 miles later, the tread separated from the left rear tire and the van rolled over, ejecting four people.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had issued a recall for the left rear tire, a BFGoodrich Commercial T/A all-season radial tire, July 25, 2012 — nearly 19 months before the crash, the NTSB reports.

Church officials told crash investigators they had never received a mailed recall notice. The report appears to blame a mix-up surroundings the church’s change of address in 2008.

The van had been taken to Sam’s Club in New Port Richey Nov. 6, 2013 because of a problem with the right rear time. A technician who serviced the vehicle recorded the tire pressure from all four tires. He did not acknowledge in the work order that the left rear tire had been recalled, according to the NTSB report. “As a result, the left rear tire remained in service until the crash occurred,” according to the report.

“Although the training material directs sales associates to complete sections of the tire registration cards and provide the cards to the consumer, as directed by federal regulations, Walmart did not indicate whether the training was required,” the NTSB report said.

It went on to add, “The NTSB is concerned that having the message, ‘See cashier for Michelin registration card or visit www.michelin.com to register your tires,’ printed on work orders — as was done on the New Port Richey Sam’s Club work orders — is less likely to result in consumers registering newly purchased tires than having tire merchants provide consumers with the tire registration cards.”

The report calls for Walmart to evaluate its current tire registration training material to “determine its effectiveness” and “employees’ compliance with it.” It also recommends that Walmart verify that all of its stores comply with federal regulations requiring tire vendors to provide product registration cards to consumers.

View the full NTSB report here.

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