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Toyota crashes into Sandusky drug store

Melissa Topey • Jun 25, 2010 at 8:07 AM


A 64-year-old Sandusky woman attempting to park her Toyota suspects her car may have unexpectedly accelerated, causing her to crash into CVS Pharmacy on Monroe Street.

The building shook Wednesday afternoon when Mary Ritter lost control of her 2004 Toyota Camry, jumping over the parking curb and striking the front of the building, CVS manager Pat Chiarmonte said.

The car sustained front-end damage. A dented brick wall and a tire tread mark remained after the Toyota was towed to Kasper's Buick.

Ritter said she was fine but declined an interview.

She told police she had parked her vehicle and it accelerated forward, jumping over the curb and striking the building, a police report said. When questioned by police, Ritter said she thought the vehicle might have accelerated on its own, but she wasn't sure.

Kasper Buick employees offered to contact Toyota to have the vehicle checked, but Ritter's husband declined because he thought Ritter might have accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake.

The 2004 Camry is not listed on the Toyota web site as one of the vehicles subject to recall from problems with floormats and accelerator pedals. Toyota has recalled about 2.3 million vehicles over the past year to repair sticky gas pedals.

Police cited Ritter for failure to control a motor vehicle.

The independent consumer group Safety Research & Strategies has reported 2,262 incidents involving unintended acceleration in Toyotas since 1999. Those incidents are said to have resulted in 815 accidents, 19 deaths and 341 injuries, according to published reports.

Murray and Murray, a local law firm, filed a lawsuit in federal court against Toyota in February on behalf of Huron resident Daniel D. Lee and others. That case has been consolidated with others in the Central District of California.

Attorneys at Murray and Murray argued that Toyota's problem is neither floor mats nor a sticking accelerator, but a problem with the electronic throttle control system, known as ETCS-Intelligent System. They say the system is vulnerable to electronic confusion by outside electronic signals.

The engine throttle is controlled by electronic signals. Attorneys claim Toyota knew of this risk but didn't build in any fail-safes, such as those used by other auto manufacturers.

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