Video: Toyota Corolla Driver's Alleged Unintended Acceleration A - FOX 32 News Chicago

Video: Toyota Corolla Driver's Alleged Unintended Acceleration Accident Caught on Security Camera


It's been almost a year since mounting allegations of sudden unintended acceleration prompted Toyota to recall millions of vehicles .

But only rarely have such accidents been caught on video.

FOX Chicago News has obtained the video of one such alleged incident, from the members of a west suburban family who say their father died due to sudden unintended acceleration in a Toyota vehicle.

Last May a surveillance camera in a strip mall parking lot in South Elgin captured the fatal accident on video.

The driver is seen backing out of a parking space and hitting one car. Then his car rushes forward and slams into a parked car, pushing it out of the way. Then the driver swerves to avoid the strip mall, and he crashes into a brick wall.

The driver, 87- year-old Leon Przybylowski, died later that day from injuries sustained in the crash. But his son Leo says that some of his dad's last words provided a clue as to what happened.

According to the victim's son, at the hospital, his dad told relatives, "It took off like a jackrabbit and there wasn't anything we could do to stop it."

Now, six months after the accident, those last words have led to a lawsuit, claiming Leon Przybylowski was yet another victim of sudden unintended acceleration by a vehicle manufactured by Toyota.

After watching the video, the victim's son Leo says, "I would never in my life had imagined that a car could accelerate that fast."

The car was a 2006 Toyota Corolla. And if the Przybylowskis are correct, the surveillance video appears to be one of the few cases in which an incident of sudden unintended acceleration is caught on camera. Their attorney believes the video helps their case.

"The videotape in this case, fortunately, corroborates all of the other evidence and testimony that is going to come out in the case," says the family's attorney, Martin Dolan.

The video came from a camera mounted above an off-track betting parlor in the strip mall. Playing the horses was one of Przybylowski's favorite hobbies. Employees there say alcohol would not have contributed to the crash because Przybylowski was not a drinker.

"I've never seen the man have a drink here," said Cody Cherniak, a betting parlor employee.

The family's attorney says that beyond the driver's own words, there are also two eyewitnesses who say the car's engine was revving loudly as it headed towards the off-tracking betting parlor, and toward the customers in the doorway.

"He was in an uncontrollable situation, and did the very best he did to save people, which he did, at the cost of his own life," Dolan, the family's attorney, said.

"It really was a heroic act of driving that he did," added Leo Przybylowski.

Over the last year, Toyota has recalled 8 million vehicles in connection with sudden unintended acceleration complaint; 2006 Corollas were not among them. Toyota blames the incidents on floor mats, sticking gas pedals or driver error, but some safety experts say it's Toyota's electronic throttle control system that's to blame, and that's what the Pryzbylowskis are claiming happened here.

"From what we can see of public record right now," says Dolan, "there is a systematic failure with problems with the Toyota engines and the throttle control across the board."

The family says its experts have ruled out Toyota's explanations, including the possibility that the 87-year-old victim, who had worked as a delivery driver, mistakenly had his foot on the gas the whole time.

"All of his times on the road as a delivery driver," his son Leo says, "he didn't have any accidents."

Attorney Dolan adds, "You would think from a common sense perspective that once he hit the car in front of him, even if he was doing something wrong up to that point, his driving skills would have taken over and he would have hit the brake and nothing more would have happened. But that's not the case here, it just defies common sense."

Toyota officials declined to be interviewed about the case, saying in a statement, "Toyota sympathizes with the individuals and families involved in any accident involving our vehicles. We have received the lawsuit from Cook County and are reviewing its contents."


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