Family members of crash victims gathered in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, hours before the chief executive of General Motors was set to appear before a House subcommittee to address the recall of vehicles connected to at least 13 fatalities.
“It is clear that GM is only concerned with their bottom line and not the safety of our loved ones,” Terry DiBattista, adoptive mother of Amber Rose, who died in a crash involving a recalled car, said on Tuesday.
“Corporate executives made a decision that fighting the problem was cheaper and easier than fixing the problem,” said Laura Christian, Rose’s birth mother. Rose, 16, died when her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt crashed into a tree.
Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, held up an ignition switch that he said was from a 2007 Chevy Cobalt, one of the recalled vehicles, saying similar switches contributed to the deaths of “innocent victims.”
“We know that the difference between this switch and one that would have worked properly was life or death,” Markey said. “Do you know the other difference? Two dollars.”
The automaker has recalled 2.5 million vehicles worldwide linked to the ignition switch problem.
GM chief executive Mary Barra met with the families of crash victims for two hours on Monday, an attorney for the families told NBC News. She was scheduled to testify Tuesday afternoon before a House subcommittee on the recall.
“I think all of my clients were given a chance to share their individual and very painful stories one by one,” attorney Robert Hilliard said of the meeting. “(Barra) was very respectful and told them face-to-face that she was sorry and assured them she would make things right.”
Families members of crash victims told NBC News that Barra became emotional during her meeting with them on Monday, at one breaking into tears. The family member of one man who died in a GM car said Barra apologized to the families.
--- Matthew DeLuca. NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez and Tom Costello contributed to this report.
First published April 1 2014, 7:38 AM