HOUSTON -- A rollover accident that killed two young Texans last August has sparked Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to recall 41,000 tires used on vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.
Goodyear said it would recall about 41,000 of its Wrangler Silent Armor tires produced in 2009 over concerns that a small number could tear, leading to crashes.
Matthew Smith, 21, and 18-year-old Kerrybeth Hall, both of Port Lavaca, Texas, died while heading back to Sul Ross State University. According to crash investigators, the tread came apart on the front right tire of Smith’s Ford F-150 truck. It caused the pickup to go into a side-skid, then overturn.
Goodyear said in a letter to federal safety regulators that it first saw an increase in warranty and property damage claims during a review in May 2010.
“So we have literally 15 months of time between when the problem was first identified and when these young people lost their lives,” said Attorney Rob Ammons, who is representing the Smith family. “You have to wonder, if something had been done sooner, could these young people be alive today."
"Why did it take children dying before you chose to ignore the problem," said Dina Smith, Matthew's mother.
"Hadn't the tire industry learned anything? They know the measures to protect the public with those tires, why don't they?" she said.
According to a February 22 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Goodyear said "a small number of tires within this population may experience a partial tread area separation under certain severe usage conditions."
"Use of these tires in severe conditions could result in partial tread separation which could lead to vehicle damage or a motor vehicle crash."
Goodyear said it inspected in December the tire involved in last year's fatal crash in West Texas and found it had sustained damage from external causes, the company said in the letter to NHTSA.
Still, based on an analysis of the warranty and damage claims, and discussion with safety regulators, Goodyear decided on February 16 to recall the tires, it said. It plans to send notices to customers by March 22.
Ammons questioned whether the scope of the recall is sufficient, covering only six sizes of tires made between March and June 2009.
"Goodyear hasn't yet identified why they've isolated that 13 week period in 2009, and so we don't really know whether or n ot this is all of the tires that are affected by this defective condition," he said.
The tires affected under the recall have the following Department of Transportation serial codes, also known as tire identification numbers found on the sidewall:
PJ0UY5HV0909 through PJ0UY5HV2209
PJAB35HV0909 through PJAB35HV2209
PJ4335HV0909 through PJ4335HV2209
PJ1535HV0909 through PJ1535HV2209
PJAH35HV0909 through PJAH35HV2209
PJLHL6HV0909 through PJLHL6HV2209