I-Team: Church van crash could help change national tire recall policy

Lawsuit says church was never made aware of recall

New Port Richey, Fla. - Recalled tires could be putting you and your family in danger and you might not even know it.

The issue is being blamed for a deadly crash in February that killed two members of a New Port Richey church.

The crash is now at the center of a major federal probe.

Two youth ministers died and eight others were injured in February when a van from New Port Richey First Baptist Church veered off I-75 near Gainesville and overturned.

The news devastated a local congregation.

A month after the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board determined the cause of the accident was a defective tire that had been the subject of a recall four months after it was purchased and installed at the New Port Richey Sam's Club.

"The van suffered a left rear tire tread separation and then went off to the right, off the road and rolled over," said Don Karol, an investigator for the NTSB.

Tire separation means the tread can wrap around the vehicle's axles causing the driver to lose control.

That’s what Karol says happened in the church van crash.

The I-Team has discovered a recently filed lawsuit alleges the church never received a recall notice and that the tires were even serviced at the same Sam's Club months after the recall, without the church being made aware.

"It's one of the many issues we're looking at in this case," Karol said.

The I-Team took undercover cameras into several Bay area retailers.  We did not find any recalled tires on local shelves.

ABC News, which is partnering with the I-Team and representatives of other local affiliates, reports finding recalled tires sold at multiple locations nationwide.

"What's troubling about tire recalls is they have the lowest rate of return for all motor vehicle products, usually in the area of 30 percent," said tire safety advocate Sean Kane.

Kane says the whole recall process needs to be overhauled to better protect the public.

"When you go to a tire shop today and you have your tires inspected, there is no way that shop can examine the tire at a glance and determine whether it's part of a recall."

The NTSB believes that faulty tires, including old and recalled tires, could be responsible for between 400 and 500 deaths a year in the U.S.

While the U.S. government does not have a single, easy to use website to obtain all of the available information, a private group has produced a website.

http://www.tiresafetygroup.com/

You can also find free apps which will help you determine if you have a recalled tire in the Apple and Android stores.

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