LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Their hands are covered in knotted scars, remnants of the night these two men almost died in a fiery car crash on the 110 Freeway.
Magdaleno and Raymundo Sanchez say they narrowly escaped with their lives but have been unable to continue working in construction and music.
The brothers have filed a lawsuit against Chrysler over the safety of their Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles.
On April 5 of last year, Magdaleno was driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee when a drunken driver rear-ended the vehicle. The SUV immediately went up in flames.
The brothers fought to get out, but their doors wouldn’t unlock.
With their seats on fire and their skin burning, Magdaleno tried unsuccessfully to punch out a window and even resorted to banging his head on the windshield in the few seconds he had left of consciousness.
They managed to escape the vehicle moments before it exploded.
The brothers’ attorney Fernando Chavez said the placement of the Jeep’s plastic gas tank behind the rear axle can cause it to burst into flames in minor rear-end collisions.
“It’s a death trap,” the lawyer said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put pressure on Chrysler to address safety concerns, and, in June 2013, the automaker announced the recall of 1.6 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Liberties to install a tow hitch to strengthen the rear of the vehicle.
A year later, records don’t indicate any vehicles have been serviced, CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Randy Paige learned.
Chrysler responded to Paige’s request for an interview with a written statement:
“The vehicles are not defective. They are among the safest in their peer groups and met or exceeded safety standards in effect when they were first sold.
“Instructions for scheduling service in the recall will be mailed next month.”
It’s too little, too late for the Sanchez brothers, Chavez said.
“With the injuries they’ve sustained to their hands now, not only can they no longer play their music, but they can’t even work,” the attorney said. “It’s devastated the family. Obviously, the burns are horrendous.”
The brothers said they’re thankful to be alive.