Jeep Grand Cherokee Gas Tank Fires And Deaths Petitioned By Center For Auto Safety; NHTSA Investigates
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- She was pretty young when she left the house at 18, and jumped on a plane and went to the other side of the ocean.
Stacey Mayer returned home from school in England a year older, and her family was happy to have her back.
On a warm July day in 2007, she read some passages from her Bible, then set out to go exercise and take a friend to breakfast.
"This was the friend that she was actually going to pick up. She walked out the door, drove up the hill and about an hour later had the accident," says her dad Steve.
A driver having a seizure lost control on a Wisconsin state highway and slammed into the back of Stacey's 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
"They bounced through the intersection here and ended up smashing the guardrail on this side," he says.
According to police accident reports and witness statements, the Jeep burst into flames.
"We were a family of five. Now, we're a family of four," her mom Susan says.
"People who are lucky survive. But there's absolute tragedies," says Clarence Ditlow.
Ditlow heads up the Center for Auto Safety, a non-profit here in Washington founded in 1970.
His office petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 to investigate crashes involving 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee's like the one Stacey was driving.