Exclusive: Lawsuit blames GM for Orleans County fatal crash

Posted at: 07/09/2014 10:51 PM
Updated at: 07/09/2014 11:12 PM
By: Lynette Adams

A 23-year-old man was killed after his car crashed into a school bus last December in Orleans County. Now a lawsuit is blaming the crash and his death on a faulty ignition switch. That ignition switch problem has led General Motors to recall more than 17 million cars this year. 

The one car involved in that December crash is now at the center of a wrongful death lawsuit. It claims that Daniel Hollaert Jr. died because the defective ignition switch caused him to lose control of his Chevrolet Cobalt. The suit also claims that GM covered the defect.

Daniel Hollaert’s mom says her 23-year-old son was well-liked and popular. His family is still trying to make sense of the horrible crash that took his life. 

Mindy Homer still has a tough time talking about what happened to her oldest son. Last December, Daniel Hollaert Jr. was headed to work when he lost control of his 2006 Chevy Cobalt. For months, the family has searched for an explanation. Nothing seemed to explain why his car crashed head-on into a school bus full of children.

Mindy Homer, Daniel’s mom, said, “He was not an inexperienced driver. He’s been driving since he was 16-years-old. We have always been a little curious to what took place and I guess maybe now this is what the answer is.”

The answer may be contained in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by an Alabama law firm on behalf of Hollaert’s family. According to the complaint filed by the firm, Beasley, Allen, Crow Methvin, Portis and Miles, the ignition switch on Hollaert’s Cobalt was defective. The complaint claims the defective switch essentially turned the car off. It veered into the center line of the highway with no power, no steering and no brakes, crashing head-on into the oncoming school bus. The complaint says this defect also caused the airbags to fail. Hollaert was killed.

Dan Hollaert Sr., Daniel’s dad, said, “We all do wrong, but I was thinking that he didn't do wrong, but I wasn't sure.”

The complaint claims General Motors knew about this defect and failed to report it to the government or the public. Dan Hollaert Sr. was shocked tonight when we shared this information with him. 

Hollaert  said, “It sure would help knowing that he wasn't doing something wrong. That means a lot to me. If it is GM's fault for hiding something, we should get into it more, for sure, so other people don't get killed.”

While General Motors is recalling millions of vehicles dating back to 1997 to fix faulty ignition switches and says it is aware of some deaths, injuries and crashes involving recalled vehicles, GM says it has no conclusive evidence that faulty switches are to blame for the crashes.

To see if your car is on a GM recall list, click here.