MONTEBELLO (CBSLA.com) — A woman is speaking out more than a year after her husband was killed in a fiery crash on the 60 Freeway.
Rosalio Munoz-Reyes was inside a model year 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee when it was rear-ended on the thoroughfare in Ontario on Jan. 22, 2015.
Within seconds, the Jeep burst into flames. Rosalio and a co-worker were trapped inside.
His wife, Cindi, is left to raise their 5-month-old baby girl and 5-year-old son alone.
“It’s a pain I’ve never felt before,” she said. “For me, it’s not going to be the same because my children don’t have a mother and a father. Now it’s just me.”
In June of 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked Chrysler to recall earlier model years, specifically Grand Cherokees built between 1993 and 1998 due to concerns about gas tanks catching on fire.
But there were no recalls for later model years between 1999 and 2004.
According to the Center for Auto Safety, federal accident data shows there were eight fatal accidents and 17 deaths involving gas tank fires in the later model years between June of 2013 and today.
Attorney Chris Spagnoli represents Rosalio Munoz-Reyes’ surviving family.
“The company should have been forced to recall all of these vehicles, not just a select group,” she said.
Underneath a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the gas tank is behind the rear axle. Spagnoli says in a rear-end impact, the gas tank can erupt into flames within seconds of impact.
Fiat Chrysler says some of the Jeep fires involved collisions with huge tractor-trailers, collisions which few vehicles could withstand.
The company provided a written statement, which says in part: “These are tragic accidents caused by factors such as excessive speed and driver distraction.”
The statement goes on to say that other makes and models were more prone to rear collision fires than their Jeep Grand Cherokees.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not return CBS2’s request for a comment.
This week, the Munoz family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler.