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Woman trapped in car for days after wreck sues General Motors


(Reuters) — A Colorado woman who was trapped inside her car for six days after losing control and rolling 300 feet down a mountainside is suing General Motors Co., saying her 2009 Chevrolet Malibu's safety features failed, court records showed on Wednesday.

Kristin Hopkins, 45, who had both of her lower legs amputated following the April 2014 crash, alleges in the federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday that the automaker knew before her wreck that the Malibu's “crash avoidance” system was defective.

According to the negligence lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, motorists in Colorado must traverse winding mountain roads, often in inclement weather, and the system designed to slow a car down when it senses a loss of traction failed Hopkins without warning.

“Given these unavoidable driving conditions, and with guardrails rarely present, Colorado drivers must rely on these paramount crash avoidance features for their very survival,” the lawsuit said.

GM said in a statement that the company “is learning details of this tragic accident.”

“We will investigate this matter and work to understand what happened and why,” the statement said.

Police said she lost control of her car on a curve near Red Hill Pass, about 65 miles southwest of Denver, and the vehicle rolled several times down a steep embankment before coming to rest upside down in a grove of Aspen trees.

Bleeding and suffering from multiple injuries, the single mother of four spent six days inside the overturned vehicle in freezing temperatures, scrawling distress messages on an umbrella that she deployed outside the wrecked car.

A group of passing motorists ultimately spotted the crash site and reported to authorities that they had found a body inside the car.

When rescuers arrived on scene, they found Hopkins alive, suffering from multiple injuries and hypothermia.

She underwent numerous surgeries and medical procedures but doctors could not save her legs, which were amputated below the knees.

While she was learning to walk on prosthetic limbs at a Denver-area rehabilitation center, the lawsuit alleges that GM sent Hopkins a recall notice telling her the car's safety system was defective.

“This piece of mail cruelly notified her that she should take her Malibu in for repairs as its safety systems may not work if she finds herself in a crash avoidance situation,” the lawsuit said.

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