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Volkswagen Golf death case re-opened
Victorian coroner orders new probe into VW ‘sudden deceleration’ case, says ABC
21 Aug 2014
1:30PMTHE Volkswagen Golf “sudden deceleration” controversy is set to get another airing in Australia, with the Victorian coroner agreeing to examine new claims in a case concerning the death of a young woman on a Victorian freeway.
According to ABC News in Melbourne, the parents of the victim, Melissa Ryan, asked the coroner to re-investigate the case in light of new evidence on the circumstances around the sudden deceleration of the Golf GTI on Melbourne’s Monash Freeway in January 2011.
Volkswagen Group Australia released a statement saying it would assist with any further enquiries should the coroner proceed.
“Volkswagen is making enquires with the Coroner’s office and of course, if there is a new review, we would fully cooperate and assist as we have done in the past.” (See below for full statement)The car reportedly slowed to about 48km/h in a 100km/h zone, and was hit from behind by a B-double truck, crushing the car and killing Miss Ryan.
The truck driver told a coroner’s court hearing last year that the car suddenly slowed in front of him, and despite braking heavily, he could not avoid hitting the car.
The coroner also heard evidence from police that Miss Ryan had been talking on her hands-free mobile phone at the time – a fact that was taken into account when the coroner found that evidence did not support a finding that something had gone wrong with the car, causing it to slow suddenly.
Volkswagen Australia investigated the crash, and said it could find no mechanical reason why the car suddenly slowed.
But Miss Ryan’s parents say they have been deluged with hundreds of reports of similar deceleration incidents in VW cars.
Her father, Phil O’Donnell, said on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night that he and his wife had accepted the coroner’s findings at the time, but after hearing numerous reports of similar occurrences had decided to ask the Victorian coroner to reinvestigate.
Mr O’Donnell’s theory is that the Golf suddenly went into “limp-home” mode, causing it to slow suddenly.
The Victorian coroner reportedly has told the couple that a solicitor within the coroner’s office will be asked to look at any fresh evidence around the cause of the crash.
Volkswagen Australia recalled VW Golfs with automatic transmissions after the crash, although it said it had nothing to do with the Ryan crash. Miss Ryan was driving a manual car.
A statement from the German car-maker's local arm reiterated that it would cooperate with any future investigations and that company expressed sympathy for Ms Ryan's family.
“Our sincere thoughts and sympathies remain with Melissa Ryan’s family in what continues to be a difficult period for them.
“Volkswagen has not been advised of any review into the Coroner’s findings.
“Volkswagen is making enquires with the Coroner’s office and of course, if there is a new review, we would fully cooperate and assist as we have done in the past.
“Volkswagen Group Australia fully cooperated with authorities and actively assisted the Coroner in her investigations that led to the findings made public last year.
“In a statement released then, Volkswagen Group Australia said it acknowledged, "the Coroner’s findings that the vehicle did not contribute to the cause of the accident.”“As we have not been made aware of any official review of the Coroner’s findings, it would be inappropriate to comment further.
“As always, customers should contact their nearest Volkswagen dealership or call our customer care centre on 1800 607 822 if they have any specific concerns with their vehicle.”
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