Family Involved in Deadly Car Crash Prompts Lawsuit Against Toyota

A family involved in a triple fatal crash on March 22, 2011 filed a lawsuit against Toyota, claiming that the FJ Cruiser lacked an adequate impact-management system, causing the vehicle to burst into flames.  Robert “Bobby” McDonald and 10-year-old son, Jaden, were killed in the fiery crash.  Bobby’s wife, Leslie and her son Kellen, 12-years-old at the time, suffered burns covering 60-70 percent of their bodies, respectively.

The crash occurred about three miles west of Hesperus, Colorado on U.S. Highway 160.

Retired Farmington Police Department officer David James Hooper, 51-years-old, also was killed in the crash. Hooper, who allegedly had taken painkillers prior to the accident, drifted over the double-yellow line, colliding head-on with the 2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser. Both of the vehicles involved caught on fire.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that a design flaw caused a “catastrophic failure” of the vehicle’s fuel storage management and delivery systems, and stated in the 20-page complaint.

Additionally stated in the lawsuit, the 2008 FJ Cruiser’s impact absorbing body structure and frame crumple zones failed to provide protection to the McDonald family due to design defect.

Due to the head-on crash, the vehicle’s drive shaft penetrated the fuel system, causing vapor and liquid gasoline to come into contact with several ignition sources, causing it to catch fire, the lawsuit says. Toyota is believed to have had knowledge of the risk or should have had knowledge of the risk, the suit contends.

Toyota’s response claims that, “Hooper, who was under the influence of prescription medications at the time of the crash, and who crossed the center of the line of the roadway, striking plaintiff’s vehicle, was the sole proximate cause thereof.”

Hooper was traveling westbound in a 2011 Chevy pickup when it crossed the line, entering the eastbound lane. Both cars were traveling about 65 mph, the posted speed limit, and collided almost directly head-on.

Both vehicles caught fire and burned to their shells in the middle of the highway.

Leslie McDonald and Kellen were able to exit the vehicle. As the mom was on fire, passers-by helped stabilize her and her son, according to law enforcement.

Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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