On December 29, a tragic accident claimed the life of one Rockville, Maryland car wash worker and injured two other employees. The accident occurred as one employee was driving a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee out of the washing bays when it suddenly accelerated.
The vehicle raced out of control and struck two employees, pinning them beneath the vehicle. The two men were dragged beneath the Jeep until it crashed into a utility pole. They remained pinned until fire and rescue workers could free them. Both men were rushed to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
One of the struck employees, a 48-year-old Hyattsville man died shortly after reaching the hospital. The other man who was pinned suffered a fractured pelvis and had to be hospitalized. The accident injured a third man, who suffered three broken ribs when the Jeep Grand Cherokee struck a second vehicle, which in turn hit him.
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health and the Montgomery County Police Collision Reconstruction Unit are investigating the accident to determine if it was caused by a vehicle malfunction or by human error. The employee who was driving the Jeep remained at the accident scene to help rescue his injured coworkers. He has not been charged with a crime and is cooperating with the investigation.
The accident is cause for increased concern for car wash managers and employees who work with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. In 2006, the International Carwash Association issued a warning that the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Grand Cherokee can experience "sudden unintended acceleration" and cautioned car wash employees to be cautious when handling the vehicles.
Source: The Gazette, "Rockville car wash employees still coping with death, injuries," Nesa Nourmohammadi, 1/5/2011