After a woman was trapped and died inside her Dodge Journey SUV in December, U.S. safety regulators began investigating possible electrical malfunctions to determine whether or not this was an isolated incident or if more drivers are exposed.
The National Highway of Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims the investigation raises questions about whether malfunctioning door locks and windows could prohibit occupants from exiting the car in an emergency.
On May 5, 2023, documents were posted to the agency’s website, highlighting that the probe involves more than 82,000 Journeys from the 2009 model year.
According to a complaint submitted to the agency, the woman pulled over to the side of the road when warning lights began flashing, windshield wipers turned on, the horn started to blare, and the windows and doors wouldn’t open or close. According to the lawsuit, a fire allegedly began in the engine and spread, trapping the woman within.
Stellantis, the parent company of Dodge, offered condolences to the woman’s family and confirmed it is fully cooperating with the NHTSA. Although the location of the fire was not specified within the agency’s data, the Wisconsin State Journal reported in January that Mary Frahm, 73, perished when her Journey caught fire on December 9, close to Madison.
Frahm had contacted her fiance and informed him her SUV had developed electrical issues, which caused her to stop on the side of the road. According to the journal’s article, she called back later to report she smelt burning and smoke coming from the dashboard. She dialed 9111, but the SUV was engulfed in flames by the time emergency personnel arrived.