Statement for Release in Response to Media Inquiry: Chicago Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Victims of March 14, 2007 Car Accident

On March 14, 2007 Karen Chiang, a nineteen-year-old student at Purdue University and a longtime resident of Northbrook, died when the 2004 Mazda RX-8 automobile in which she was a passenger burst into flames after striking a median support structure on E. Lower Wacker Drive, west of Stetson Ave. Karen had been home for spring break visiting her family, and was returning from a restaurant in Chicago with two other college students, Cindy Kim and Thomas Choi, at the time of the crash. Thomas and Cindy were also killed. Karen, however, survived the vehicle’s initial impact. The medical examiner’s report indicates that she suffered no serious injuries in the crash itself, but was killed after the vehicle caught fire shortly after the collision. Karen tried to escape the fire, but was unable to open the vehicle’s rear “freestyle” door to escape. On Feb. 8, 2008, attorneys for the Estate of Karen Chiang filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The amended complaint alleges that the accident occurred when the RX-8 suddenly lost control on wet pavement on Lower Wacker Drive. The complaint alleges that the Mazda improperly withheld Dynamic Stability Control, an active safety feature, and that without DSC the RX-8 was unreasonably susceptible to a loss of control. Further, the complaint alleges that the RX-8’s non-standard “freestyle” rear doors prevent rear-seat passengers from exiting the vehicle in the event of an accident.

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