Katy woman's terrifying ride

November 26, 2009 4:07:44 PM PST
It's Toyota's largest recall in the United States. Owners of nearly 4 million vehicles are being told to bring in their cars to replace the gas pedal after dozens of accidents and even deaths. The complaints are frightening -- sudden and uncontrollable speeding. A Katy family says they've experienced the same problem with their car. And their vehicle is not included in that recall.

"I swerved over to the right lane, and it still wouldn't stop," said Brenda Ritter. "So I swerved over to the sidewalk."

Ritter recalls one of the most terrifying experiences of her life.

"We're hitting all these signs, and then we hit the median," she said.

She says the brakes on her car -- a 2006 Lexus 330 -- not only failed, but began to accelerate. Brenda had four grandchildren in the car with her.

"There was a lot of traffic at that time," she said. "How I missed other cars, I don't know."

Witnesses reported seeing Brenda's brake lights on, but oddly, her car was going so fast, it was nearly airborne. Brenda did the only thing she could -- steer the wheel to save their lives.

"I told the kids to hang on," said Brenda.

It would take just three or four seconds before she took out two stop signs, eventually coming to a stop at a gas station sign.

"I went on the Internet and looked up Lexus brakes," said Brenda.

What Brenda found shocked her. She says she found hundreds of people with the same story.

"And the same thing happened to them. All of a sudden, their car took off and they couldn't stop it and it kept going faster and faster," she said.

Brenda's husband, Thomas, is a retired mechanical engineer and spent 15 years working in the auto industry. He says he's stunned their car wasn't recalled.

"For some strange reason, it was not on the recall list," he said. "It should be because it happened to us."

For now, the Ritters want to warn other Toyota owners of the hazard, while counting their own blessings on Thanksgiving.

"We could've all been killed," said Brenda. "And that's the scary part and I'm really thankful."

The recall that was announced Wednesday involves 3.8 million vehicles. They include eight Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota is contacting the owners and plans to shorten their gas pedals. In April, they're hoping to come out with entirely new pedal replacements.

For more information, owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331 or the NHTSA hot line at 888-327-4236.


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