General Motors CEO Faces Congressional Questioning On Recalls - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

General Motors CEO Faces Congressional Questioning On Recalls

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Washington, D.C. - The new CEO of General Motors faced a grilling from lawmakers Tuesday on Capitol Hill on whether GM could have acted sooner to recall millions of cars with defective ignition switches.

She wasn't in charge of General Motors when the automaker learned of a massive safety defect, but Tuesday, CEO Mary Barra was on the hot seat.

"So, you don't know when GM knew about this problem?" asked Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-Colorado). "No," answered Barra.

Since Barra took over GM in January, the automaker has recalled 2.6 million vehicles because their ignition switches could turn off unexpectedly -- shutting down the car power and safety systems, including the air bag.

Records indicate GM knew about the problem as early as 2001...but didn't address it. The defect resulted in 13 deaths, including Laura Christian's 16-year-old daughter, Amber Marie Rose.

"We are the people left behind when a loved one who got into what was supposed to be a safe car, a GM car, a car that GM knew for years was dangerous and defective," Christian said Tuesday.

Samantha Denti was one of the lucky ones who survived. "Driving this car was playing a game of Russian Roulette," she said.

Families of accident victims said GM needs to come clean about why it took more than a decade to address the defective ignition switches.

Ken Rimer's 18-year-old stepdaughter was killed in an accident. Monday night, he and other victims' families met privately with Barra in Washington.

"This was the first time she apologized to us...apology is accepted, but it's not the answer that we need," Rimer said.

GM announced at the hearing that it's brought on Ken Feinberg to manage the compensation funds for victims of the ignition failure. Feinberg did the same for victims of 9/11 and the BP oil spill.
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