Ford Van Design Led To Tire-Blowout That Killed Six, Expert Says


Posted on 21st September 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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The six victims of a crash last weekend, who were killed when their van blew a rear tire and rolled over repeatedly in New York, had two things going against them. One they could not control, the second they could have. 

First, an auto safety expert explained in the New York Post Monday that the van involved in the accident, a 1997 Ford Econoline, has design flaws that make it susceptible to tire blowouts.

Byron Bloch, an expert witness in auto-safety cases, said that the 15-passenger van that members of a Queens church congregation were traveling in has “a high center of gravity, a narrow wheel base and a poor suspension system,” according to the Post. Bloch said that all creates stress on the van’s rear tires, stress that increases when the vehicle has a lot of passengers.

There were 14 members of the Joy Fellowship Christian Assembly on the van when it blew its rear tire Saturday afternoon. The van then went out of control and repeatedly flipped over on the New York Thruway near the Woodbury Commons outlet mall, killing the church’s bishop and pastor, as well as four others.

Bloch has called for Ford to redesign its van, which he deems dangerous,

Now here is something the congregation could have done, but didn’t, that could have saved lives. Many of them weren’t wearing seat belts. Seven people were thrown out of the van when it flipped. 

Block told the Post that Ford could have done something about that, too. If the Ford vans has shatterproof glass, that could have stopped passengers from being ejected from the van, according to Block.   

Now maybe Ford will address these issues. Maybe.


Six Bronx Church Members Killed When Van Flips Over After Tire Blowout


Posted on 19th September 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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Six people were killed — including the bishop and pastor of a Bronx church — when their van’s rear tire blew out Saturday, ending with the vehicle repeatedly rolling over on the New York State Thruway.

In addition to the fatalities, eight of the van’s passengers were injured in the accident, which took place around 3 p.m. Saturday near the Woodbury Commons outlet mall in New York. Bodies were scattered on the Thruway, covered with sheets. 

There were 14 people in the Ford van, members of the Joy Fellowship Chutch who were on their way to visit a sister church, First Light Christian Assemblies, in Albany, N.Y. 

In its account, The New York Times quoted Pasquale Prozzillo, a second assistant chief in the Woodbury Fire Department, who said the van’s driver lost control after the vehicle blew its tire.

“The van rolled three to four times,” Prozzillo told The Times. “Seven people got ejected.”

The church’s bishop, Simon White, died in the accident, as did his wife Zelda White, and pastor Titus McGhie. The other fatalities were Avril Murray, Evelyn Ferguson and Elaine Reid.

One survivor, Veronica Francis, 52, had injuries to both legs and a deep cut above her eye. Her husband Patrick told the New York Post that his wife lost consciousness when the van rolled over, which means she also suffered a concussion.


Ford Ordered To Pay Family Of Mets Prospect $131 Million By Jury In Fatal Explorer Rollover Accident


Posted on 7th September 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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 A Mississippi jury awarded the family of New York Mets prospect Brian Cole, who was killed in an accident while driving an Explorer, $131 million from Ford Motor Co.

This isn’t the first settlement of its kind that Ford had had to pay. It reportedly has shelled out a large sum of money for settlements in wrongful death cases involving its Explorer, which has a long history of fatal accidents.

 The attorney for Cole’s family, Tab Turner, told Reuters said that after the jury rendered its verdict, the family reached a settlement with Ford. The terms of that settlement were’s disclosed, but the case in general was worth more than some other rollover lawsuits because of Cole’s profession as a ball player.

Ford had argued that Cole had been speeding, driving 80 mph, when he went off the road in a 2001 rollover accident and was killed. Cole, 22, wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He died in the Florida Panhandle while on his way from home to Mississippi.

The auto maker also contended that it would have won the case if the jury hadn’t excluded some evidence.  

“This was a tragic accident and our sympathy goes out to the Cole family, for their loss, but it was unfair of them to blame Ford,” a spokeswoman for the auto maker said.

Ford had ended its lengthy partnership with Firestone in 2001, the same year as Cole’s accident, blaming the tiremaker for rollovers and blowouts that caused a number of fatal accidents involving the Explorer. 

That SUV seemed to have left a legacy of death. The details and fatal statistics involving the Explorer are chronicled in a book by Adam L. Penenberg, “Tragic Indifference: One Man’s Battle with the Auto Industry Over the Danger of SUVs.”    

Some of the data about the Explorer from Penenberg’s book were plucked out, and credited, by this posting on