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Family Destroyed by Crash Urges Firestone, GM to Recall Tires Made in Mexico

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas--Jan. 25, 2001--Jose Hernandez, part of a family that lost seven members in a Firestone-tire related crash in Mexico last summer, today held a press conference in Corpus Christi, Texas asking Bridgestone, Firestone's parent corporation, to extend the scope of its recall investigation to tires made in Mexico.
    On August 3, 2000, the Hernandez and Macias families were driving near Guadalajara in General Motors sports utility vehicle called a "Silverado" (not related to the U.S. pickup truck of that name), which is similar to the GM SUV retailed as the Tahoe in the U.S. According to Billy Edwards and Doug Allison, attorneys for the families in a suit against Bridgestone, General Motors, and the driver's estate, the left rear tire experienced tread separation, and the tread wrapped around the axle, throwing the vehicle out of control and into a rollover.
    Seven people were killed in the crash-including children-and others were badly injured. One young girl suffered a serious brain injury and is undergoing treatment at Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. Another girl lost her entire family-both parents and two sisters-and was herself injured in the crash.
    The SUV in the crash was assembled in Mexico, and its Firestone tires, model FR480, were manufactured in Mexico. A front tire on the same vehicle had experienced tread separation only a month earlier; the vehicle was taken to a Firestone dealership at that time. Although the FR480 is not the same tire recalled in the U.S.
    last year, Edwards said that it has "similar design features rendering it equally defective." Over a hundred complaints have been filed about the FR480 to the NHTSA here in the US, he added.
    The family is asking Firestone "to act responsibly in Mexico. Firestone should extend its internal U.S. investigation to all tires made in Mexico," said Edwards. He also noted that many cars sold in the US, most notably General Motors' popular Suburban, are now often assembled in Mexico with inadequate tires-"even more reason to hold GM and Firestone to a responsible standard there." On January 2, 2001 Firestone recalled 8,000 tires manufactured at the Cuernavaca plant in Mexico. Those tires were mostly fitted on model year 2000 GM Suburbans sold in the U.S.
    "But that is only a drop in the bucket. Firestone should recall any of its tires that pose a danger to the public, no matter where they are made or sold," added Allison. Hernandez said, "No one should have to go through this kind of tragedy, no matter where they live."