What do you think?
There are some muffled screams after that – the most horrifying of which is the teenage girl in the back seat, the higher pitch of her voice audibly piercing the final audio from the end of the line. But the car that in 2009 flew straight off the bridge and plummeted into a ball of flames two hundred feet down into the bottom of a San Diego valley and sparked a public hearing wasn't the only incident of a Toyota that went beyond the control of its driver. There have been plenty of other similar incidents since then, too. Each time, Toyota's reaction has been exactly the same: to blame the driver. Worse, regulators silently consent and support the automaker in a game of quid pro quo. But why do these accidents keep happening, and why doesn't Toyota fix the problem with its cars? The answer is that to do so would mean spending more money on manufacturing. Last year, the company made a record $17.9 billion in profit. Every year, profit keeps rising, only Toyota's managing of its costs in Asia and LatAm looks like a leading cause of deaths of many of its customers elsewhere. Story by Daniel M. Harrison. Cover Artwork by Jonathan Vico.
But that was far from being all that was wrong, for there were a string of other mishaps and tragedies associated with Toyota’s malfunctioning vehicle performance that the company was doing its utmost to cover up. (It has maintained the same position ever since, too.)
At the very moment the Saylor family lost their lives in the Lexus E350, there was another hapless victim of Toyota’s callous profit-driven ruthlessness still alive. But that didn’t mean Toyota wasn’t taking away his life. It was. The Japanese automaker was costing an innocent man his freedom.
In 2006, 29-year old Laos national Koua Fong Lee was sentenced to 8 years in jail by a Minnesota court after the Toyota he was driving mowed down three people while he was ferrying his family home – them being his pregnant wife and two primary school-age kids – after Church on a Sunday morning in a 1996 Toyota Camry.
One of those injured in the car in front was an 8 year-old girl who was left paraplegic and later died of her injuries. Lee constantly maintained his innocence all along. There is something detectably clear about the way Lee explains the culmination of events leading up to the crash. Almost instantly, you begin to recognize a truthful story emerging.
“When I exited from [the] I-94 [turning] to Snelling and [sic] I saw many cars in front of me and I saw the red light. Then I took my foot off the gas and put my foot on the brake. But you know, when I pushed nothing happened. Then I pushed again. Then I yelled to my family “the brakes aren’t working!” Then the police came and he [sic] asked me: “What happened?” and I told him “the brakes aren’t working, that’s why we had an accident. So I tried everything I could to stop the car but the brake was just not working.”