Statement of Julie Lockwood-Steinberg
Sept. 26, 2000
My name is Julie Lockwood-Steinberg. I'm from Houston, Texas. I'm the sister of Tim Lockwood who was killed when his Firestone ATX tire detreaded causing his Ford Explorer to roll.
I am here today to express my concern to all Americans that Tim would be alive today if he had not been driving a Ford Explorer with Firestone tires.
There are some things in life we cannot prevent. But we can prevent death and serious injuries from occurring when companies knowingly conceal information about defective products. If we change the laws and force manufacturers to advise consumers of faulty and defective products, we can save lives.
It is human nature to think that this could not happen to you or your family. However, there are now 101 confirmed deaths and 400 injuries just in our country alone from these Firestone/Ford accidents. Companies should not be able to continue manufacturing defective products that cause such turmoil and grief, like this incident has.
Tim was like you. Someone's son, grandson, brother, uncle, neighbor and friend. Tim, like any other American, who never thought that Ford would make an unsafe car, nor that they would put unsafe tires on one of their vehicles.
Tim was a wonderful young man. Very responsible. Very smart. Extremely disciplined and articulate. He was very serious about his car maintenance. Tim had his tires checked and oil changed monthly. Prior to Tim's death he left me a note on my car to check one of my tires -- the tire that looked low.
However, Tim's responsible actions could not prevent his death.
Tim had a new Ford Explorer ( a 1997 Explorer) with the new redesigned body style. However at 10:30 in the morning on September 18, 1997, on his way to a business meeting, Tim's rear driver side tire detreaded. Tim's Explorer rolled. The roof on Tim's Ford Explorer crushed, causing his neck to break, and Tim suffocated to death. Tim's Explorer was so mangled it took hours for his body to be removed from the wreckage.
Consumers need to realize that these two manufacturers knew of these problems and knew about them for many years. Changes need to be made so that this carnage will never happen again. Tim's death would have been completely preventable if Firestone and Ford had designed the products to be safe in the first place and advised the public of the failures when they first occurred. Tim could have made the decision to replace his tires or get a different vehicle. Instead, these companies hide behind their teams of lawyers and would rather pay claims than prevent death. Well, no amount of money will ever make my life and my family's life the same.
Tim's legacy to all of us was that he was an honest and trustworthy person . He lived his life to do what was right, through honor and trust. He trusted Ford, he trusted that he was in a safe vehicle with safe tires.
Let's let Tim's legacy live on and force manufacturers to be honest and trustworthy, to make the best and safest products available, as he believed they were.
There should have never been this kind of loss of human life. One death, one injury is one too many. We lost a fine young man. Our family is now incomplete because Tim was such an overwhelming presence in our lives. Unfortunately, many families have experienced a similar loss due to these horrible accidents.
If there was a law that forced companies to share information with NHTSA, maybe my brother's life and others would have been spared.
If there were higher standards put on tire manufacturers and automobile manufacturers, maybe my brother's life and others would have been spared. We need to fight for higher standards.
And if the people who run car companies knew they could go to jail if they designed unsafe products and did not recall them or keep information about defective products secret, then we almost certainly would be able to save lives.
In addition, we need to fight for better, stronger roof standards, since they have not changed since 1970. It is now 30 years later, and roofs still crush like paper in rollovers.
Finally, we need legislation to prevent gag orders. Families sue corporations thinking that they are helping the consumer by informing them of a defective product. However, corporations are so powerful and have so much money, they pressure lawyers and families to settle their lawsuits. Upon settlement, families have no choice but to sign confidentiality agreements, and the documents and details are sealed.