Saturn Car Wrecks in Test Drive
Jun. 06, 2000
SPRING HILL, Tenn. (AP) _ A Saturn test car with right-hand steering crashed into a pickup during a road test, critically injuring two company engineers.
The 2001 S-series Saturn wagon was on a highway near the Saturn plant Monday afternoon when it crossed the center lane in a sharp curve and collided with a pickup, state trooper Michael Jolley said.
Saturn engineers Alfred Soulliere, the driver, and Mark Goften were airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center at Nashville after rescue crews spent 40 minutes removing them from the wreckage. They were listed in critical condition Tuesday.
The truck driver, Joe King of Spring Hill, was treated and released from a local hospital with minor injuries.
Jolley said he did not expect to issue any traffic citations. He said the speed limit for the road was about 40 mph, and the Saturn car may have been traveling slightly faster than that. The accident remains under investigation.
Saturn spokeswoman Sue Mallino said the car was a standard factory model. The steering wheel was on the right side because it is a model sold to rural U.S. postal carriers and for export to Japan, she said.
The car met all the safety requirements to be driven on a public road, she said.
Speaking from headquarters in Detroit, she would not release details about the men's injuries or the type of test they were performing on the car.
The Saturn engineers were wearing seat belts and their air bags deployed, Jolley said. King was not wearing a seat belt, but his air bag also deployed, he said.
Saturn, a division of General Motors, announced in April a $1 billion expansion of the Spring Hill plant. The plant has a test track for its new models and engines, but cars are sometimes taken on public roads for durability tests after they meet safety standards, Mallino said.
On the Net: http://www.saturn.com