DETROIT (AP) — US safety regulators are investigating possible electrical problems in older Dodge Journeys after a woman was trapped and killed when her SUV caught fire in December.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it is investigating whether non-functioning window and door locks can prevent people from getting out of SUVs during an emergency.
Documents posted Friday on the agency’s website say the investigation covers more than 82,000 2009 model-year rides. The investigation was opened after the woman’s death on December 9.
A complaint filed with the agency says the woman was pulled to the side of a road when the warning lights began flashing, the windshield wipers came on, the horn began to sound, the windows would not roll down and the doors would not unlock. The complaint alleges that the fire apparently started in the engine and spread, trapping the woman inside.
“The driver was unable to exit the vehicle, resulting in his death,” the agency wrote in the documents.
Stellantis, which makes Dodge vehicles, expressed its condolences to the woman’s family and said it is cooperating with NHTSA.
Agency documents don’t say where the fire occurred, but the Wisconsin State Journal reported in January that 73-year-old Mary Frahm died when her Journey caught fire Dec. 9 near Madison.
Frahm called her fiancé and told him that she pulled over to the side of the road after the Journey began having electrical problems. She later called back and said smoke was coming from the dash and she could smell burning, the newspaper said. She called 911, but by the time first responders arrived, flames had engulfed the van, the newspaper reported.