WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a letter to the CEO of General Motors, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) asked that the auto giant return the "black box" which could have information about a car crash that killed a 21-year-old Northeast Pennsylvania woman in 2010. In separate correspondence, Senator Toomey called for a federal investigation into the death of Kelly Erin Ruddy after she lost control of her 2005 Chevy Cobalt.

In a letter to GM's Mary T. Barra, Senator Toomey said he finds the company's lack of responsiveness to the Ruddy family totally unacceptable. The Senator implored GM to contact Leo and Mary Theresa Ruddy immediately and return to the family the car's black box, which was taken as part of the investigation, as quickly as possible.

In the letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Senator Toomey recounted Kelly's death and her parents concern that a possible electrical failure in their daughter's car may have triggered the accident. Despite multiple letters from the Ruddys, no one from NHTSA ever reached out to speak with them about their concerns. Instead, NHTSA sent impersonal responses with boilerplate language stating that the agency was uninterested in investigating the issue further.

The Senator is asking for a personal commitment from the Acting Administrator of NHTSA, David Friedman, to thoroughly investigate Kelly's death and an explanation as to why it reportedly took so long for the agency to act on the dozens of complaints it received about the safety of model year 2004 and 2005 GM vehicles.

The letters are below:

March 19, 2014

Mary T. Barra
Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Company
P.O. Box 33170
Detroit, MI 48232

Dear Ms. Barra,

I write to you concerning my constituents Leo and Mary Theresa Ruddy, whose daughter, Kelly Erin Ruddy, was tragically killed after she lost control of her General Motors (GM) 2005 Chevy Cobalt on January 10, 2010.

Kelly's family received a recall notice for 2005 Cobalts less than three months after her accident. Mrs. Ruddy promptly reached out to your company to further investigate if the underlying reason for this recall was related to her daughter's accident. In 2010, GM reportedly sent three employees to examine the totaled vehicle and investigate its black box for any information related to the crash. The employees took multiple photographs of the vehicle and extracted the black box which they took with them. This was the last direct contact that Mrs. Ruddy has had with anyone from your company.

Despite repeated attempts over the past several years to contact GM and retrieve the car's black box, Mr. & Mrs. Ruddy have been unable to speak with any representative of your company. I find this lack of responsiveness totally unacceptable. I request your personal assurance that GM contact Mr. & Mrs. Ruddy immediately and return the car's black box as quickly as possible.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey
United States Senator


March 19, 2014

David J. Friedman,
Acting Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington DC 20590-9898

Dear Administrator Friedman,

I write you today in response to a troubling article I read in the March 8th edition of The New York Times entitled "Auto Regulators Dismissed Defect Tied to 13 Deaths." I was deeply disappointed to learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) apparently failed to sufficiently investigate reports of dangerous malfunctions in model years 2004 and 2005 General Motors (GM) vehicles even after dozens of citizens requested they do so.

NHTSA's apparent failure to appropriately investigate these reports is unacceptable. If numerous media reports are correct, NHTSA's inaction allowed hundreds of thousands of unsafe vehicles to continue operating on America's motorways and exposed millions of drivers to unnecessary danger which ultimately resulted in horrific and untimely deaths.

One tragic incident that might have been prevented was the death of Pennsylvania resident Kelly Erin Ruddy, age 21, who was killed after she lost control of her 2005 Chevy Cobalt on January 10, 2010. Kelly's passing was a tremendous loss to her family and friends. Kelly's parents, Leo and Mary Theresa Ruddy, felt obligated to contact the proper authorities to ensure an investigation of the safety of Kelly's vehicle. They promptly filed multiple complaints with NHTSA. I was shocked to learn that, despite the tragic accident and repeated attempts by Leo and Mary Theresa to make contact, no one from NHTSA ever reached out to speak with them about their concerns. Instead, NHTSA sent impersonal form letters with boilerplate language stating that the agency was uninterested in investigating the issue further.

NHTSA's failure to fully investigate the complaints submitted by Leo and Mary Theresa Ruddy - including neglecting to speak to them about their concerns - is inexcusable. Please confirm in your response to this letter your personal commitment to initiate a thorough investigation of Ms. Ruddy's death and an explanation as to why it reportedly took so long for NHTSA to act on the dozens of complaints it received about model year 2004 and 2005 GM vehicles. Such a commitment and explanation are the least NHTSA can do to help Mr. & Mrs. Ruddy, and to all citizens who were ignored after contacting NHTSA hoping to prevent further tragic deaths.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Pat Toomey
United States Senator