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Statement of Miriam Cintron

Statement of Miriam Cintron
West Palm Beach, Florida
April 19, 2004

Hello, I am Miriam Cintron. I am here to ask our government to act quickly to address the increasing number of rollover crashes in SUVs. I know, first hand, the devastation rollover crashes can cause families.

On November 7, 1997, my 19-year-old daughter Angie died from head injuries sustained in a rollover crash. Her 1995 Kia Sportage SUV flipped over six times after she swerved when a car came into her lane as she was driving on Florida’s Turnpike south of Orlando. Angie was coming home for a surprise visit from Florida State University and she was wearing her seatbelt.

Despite the auto company’s claims that the accident was our daughter’s fault, eyewitnesses testified that she was driving at a safe speed and her belt was still buckled. The crushed roof looked like it had been reinforced with toothpicks. How could so much destruction stem from a 6.9 second accident and how could an emergency maneuver that many of us face on a daily basis turn into a life-and-death situation? As long as I live I will never stop thinking about what my daughter must have experienced during the last seconds of her young life.

I blame the auto manufacturers for putting such an inferior vehicle on the market. It would cost them a pittance to reinforce the roof. It’s far easier to blame the voiceless victim than to take the necessary steps to decrease fatalities and severe injuries. Less than $20 could have made the difference between my daughter living or dying. I do not believe that the cost of making these types of vehicles safer is exorbitant by any means. I can only believe that the financial interests of the automobile industry far outweigh the safety of the American consumer. My question to the auto industry today is, why should their interests outweigh our safety?

Yes, SUVs are popular. But we, the consumers, need more actual information about them rather than the illusion of their ruggedness and sturdy construction. I, like many other Americans, purchased this vehicle based on this deception. I was led to believe it was a sturdy, safe vehicle. Instead, I gave my daughter a ticking time bomb.

Lawmakers need to put faces – like this beautiful face that once graced my life – on American families that make purchasing choices for loved ones. Angie was robbed of her future because the manufacturer failed to put a safe vehicle on the market. Instead, her sport utility vehicle was her “death sentence.”