St. Johns County woman attributes cousin's death to GM negligence

Fatal crash believed to be caused by faulty ignition switch

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

FRUIT COVE, Fla. - When Karlie Yarborough's cousin died in a car accident, her family was first told that 19-year-old Sarah Trautwein fell asleep behind the wheel of her car. It wasn't until a couple of months ago that the family learned the heartbreaking truth behind Trautwein's death.

"All of the sudden her car was going one way on the road, and then you see where it veered off to the other way at 75 miles per hour," said Yarborough, who lives in Fruit Cove.

The accident happened in June of 2009, and Trautwein was driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, one of the vehicles involved in General Motors ignition recalls. Now it's believed that the ignition switch in the car malfunctioned and caused Trautwein's accident.

"I am so happy that they were admitting some kind of guilt to the situation," said Yarborough.

Early Thursday morning, the company's CEO announced the findings of an internal investigation and said 15 employees were fired after they were found to have knowledge of the ignition switch problems, but did nothing to make changes that could have saved people's lives.

Last April, Yarborough started a petition through in memory of Trautwein. Her hope is to convince Attorney General Eric Holder to pursue criminal charges against those responsible. So far, more than 111,000 people have signed the petition.

"We check the petition continuously because each signature shows a sign of support for our families, and support against GM and the decision that they made," said Yarborough.

Yarborough said she hopes her cousin will be remembered for who she was.

"She would always say if you were upset, she would always say, 'Behind every dark cloud is the sun. Just wait one more day and everything is going to be fine,'" said Yarborough. "She was just that kind of a person. She was infectious with joy."

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