Report: 21 Deaths From Faulty Tires


Wednesday, August 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — A federal agency now has reports of 21 deaths resulting from accidents caused by Firestone tire treads peeling off their casings, USA Today reported.

Prior to the report in Wednesday's editions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had indicated it knew of only four such deaths.

Earlier this week, two additional families sued Ford Motor Co. and Firestone, alleging tread on Firestone tires on their Ford Explorers separated and caused fatal accidents.

Similar suits over the tires have been filed as far back as 1996 and the NHTSA opened an investigation in May after receiving 90 complaints from consumers about the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires.

Attorney Gary Pajcic, who represents the Florida families involved in the latest suits, said the tire problem becomes deadly on the Explorer because its high center of gravity makes it more difficult to control when the tread separates.

Firestone said in a statement Tuesday that it has ``full confidence'' in the tires, almost 48 million of which have been manufactured.

The Public Citizen watchdog group in Washington and attorneys involved in litigation with Firestone and Ford allege 30 deaths nationwide have been caused by the tire separation problem.

The federal investigation is in its preliminary stages with letters sent to Firestone and Ford. Both companies have asked for additional time to respond.

The tires have been original equipment on General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Subaru vehicles for several years, but most accidents reported to federal officials have involved the Ford Explorer.

USA Today said the NHTSA has no explanation of why Fords would crash more then other vehicles using the same tires.