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Victim of Firestone Mishap Urges Public To Replace Wilderness AT Tires

15 September 2000

Victim of Firestone Tire Mishap Urges Public To Replace All Wilderness AT Tires

    MIAMI--Sept. 15, 2000--The survivor of an accident involving a Ford Explorer riding on Firestone tires not part of the nationwide recall urges anyone driving a Ford Explorer with Firestone Wilderness AT tires to replace them - even if that means at their own expense.
    Carmen Villar, 22, was driving to her Pembroke Pines, Fla. home Tuesday on Interstate 595 when the tread on her right rear tire separated from the tire. Her Explorer fishtailed across three lanes of traffic, slid into the center median and tipped over before righting itself. Villar suffered only minor injuries. The Firestone tires on her Explorer were manufactured at the company's Wilson, N.C. plant and were not part of the nationwide recall.
    At a news conference yesterday, Villar, her family and her attorney urged anyone driving a Ford Explorer with Wilderness AT tires to replace them, even it that means paying for them with their own money.
    "I could have been killed," said Villar. "I wouldn't want anyone else to experience what I just went through."
    "Regardless of the ID numbers and regardless of where the tires were manufactured, we are emphatically stating today that all Wilderness AT tires should be replaced," said Ralph Patino, Villar's attorney. "Carmen Villar was lucky. She survived. Now we have an obligation to tell everyone else that the tires are not safe."
    Patino is currently representing seven families that are suing Firestone and Ford because of tire separation accidents. He said the shredded tire on Villar's vehicle, though not manufactured in the suspect Decatur, Ill. plant, had nearly identical damage to the other defective tires that he has seen.
    Villar is seeking damages from the Ford dealership that serviced her car and inspected her tires two weeks ago. After the recall was announced, she asked the dealership to replace the tires but was refused.