Vicki Hill, 58, died last week after her 2007 Jeep Liberty was hit from behind at a stop light by a Buick sedan. The tragedy occurred on Monday morning as Hill was on her way to work in Lorain, Ohio.
Investigators suspect that excessive speed was to blame, but did not estimate how fast the driver of the other vehicle was going.
Takori Brown, Hill’s daughter, told Bloomberg:
We’re just shocked. She was so kind, She was so funny. She was a private person but when it came to her family she was the life of the party.”
The problem with the Jeep Liberty — and over 1.5 million other Jeeps that Chrysler reluctantly recalled in 2013 — is the gas tank is located behind the rear axle, hanging below the rear bumper.
In rear-end collisions, lower-clearance vehicles can easily damage the high-clearance Jeep’s gas tank and spark a fire that engulfs both vehicles in flames.
The other problem is that Chrysler only recalled a limited number of vehicles with the controversial gas tank design. Chrysler offered a free trailer hitch but did not conduct crash-tests to determine if it would actually prevent deadly gas tank fires.
Vicki Hill received the recall notice and had the trailer hitch installed — but like other victims, the hitch did not prevent her death in a fiery explosion. There are now more than 50 deaths linked to Jeep fires.
Chrysler insists that the vehicles are not defective and comply with federal safety requirements. The recall involved 1.56 million 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty and 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.