GM Recall Affects Millions; McCaskill to Lead Hearing

By Matt Lupoli |

Published 04/01 2014 09:47PM

Updated 04/02 2014 04:48AM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- General Motors is under criticism on Capitol Hill amid a recall that affects millions of people across the country, including the Ozarks.

"All of a sudden the car just died on me," Debbie Fiscus said. "It's happened four or five times now."

Fiscus drives about an hour away from Springfield on Interstate 44 to and from work each day.

She said she had to use quick-thinking when a faulty ignition switch in her Chevy Cobalt shuts the engine while she's driving. She's had to re-start it mid-trip.

"I was afraid, I said, 'Oh my gosh, my car is off," Fiscus said.

Government leaders are calling the recall 10 years too late. The company reportedly held off the recall on a part that costs 57 cents per car.

GM CEO Mary Barra apologized Tuesday for the 13 deaths attributed to the faulty part.

"That's really just pitiful, that's sad that someone hasn't taken over. I've got experience driving. I can think really quick, 'Well I've got to shift it,' but these kids don't know how to do that -- so it's really sad to think they've had to die," Fiscus said.

Fiscus is awaiting a fix. Her Cobalt is her only means to get to work, but she said she's not afraid -- just cautious.

"Be aware and if it does go off you can shift into neutral and then shift back to drive," Fiscus said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill to Chair Hearing Wednesday

The U.S. Senate will hold another hearing Wednesday, with Missouri's Sen. Claire McCaskill at the helm.

McCaskill serves as the chairperson of the consumer protection subcomittee.

According to a news release from McCaskill's office, she plans to focus on the decade-long delay between the problem's start and the recall announcement.

She also plans to look into whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can affectively monitor safety defects.

GM CEO: 'I'm Deeply Sorry'

Mary Barra said she is "deeply sorry" over her company's decision not to issue a recall for the faulty switches over several year.

"Sitting here today, I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out," she said. 

Barra told Congress during a Tuesday hearing that GM is conducting a thorough investigation into the problem and delayed recall.

She also promised the company would not follow a similar path in the future.

"Today's GM will do the right thing," Barra said. "That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry."

The Justice Department has an open investigation.

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