One car barreled through a stop sign, struck a tree and landed upside down in a Texas lake, drowning four people. Another tore across an Indiana street and crashed into a jewelry store. A third raced at an estimated 100 mph on a San Bernardino County street before striking a telephone pole, killing a restaurant owner.
At least 56 people have died in U.S. traffic accidents in which sudden unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles has been alleged, according to a Times review of public records and interviews with authorities.
Most died while doing the mundane: returning to work after lunch, shopping, driving to the bank to make a deposit. The deaths occurred in big cities and small towns throughout the U.S.: Los Angeles; Tucson; Auburn, N.Y.; Marietta, Ga. The stories are told in court filings, federal accident complaints and police reports.
In the last decade, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received complaints of 34 fatalities related to sudden acceleration of Toyota vehicles, far more than for any other automaker. At least 22 additional deaths related to Toyota acceleration problems have been alleged in lawsuits and police reports.