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Former Firestone employee urges recall of all Wilderness models

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FORT MYERS, Florida (CNN) -- A former employee of Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., on Thursday urged the company to recall the entire Wilderness series of tires, saying, "I don't think any more lives should be lost."

The comments of Max Nonnamaker, a consultant and a self-proclaimed tire expert, came during a news conference with a pair of Florida lawyers who are seeking a bigger tire recall.

Attorney Marcus Viles said Firestone's August 9 recall of 6.5 million 15-inch tires of the ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT models was inadequate, incomplete and misleading.

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He also said the language in the recall order should convey the danger of driving on those tires, which allegedly can rupture while driving at normal speeds.

"Proper warnings to consumers will prevent further deaths," Viles said.

Nonnamaker also gave a deposition to attorneys filing wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits against the Japanese tire maker. He said the recall models "have an unreasonably dangerous propensity to experience sudden and complete tread separation between the steel belts while operating at normal highway speeds."

Wednesday, four former Firestone employees made similar comments during depositions. Firestone denounced the four as disgruntled former employees who quit Firestone during a bitter strike.

The voluntary recall was for tires, which are standard issue on Ford sport utility vehicles. Most of the Wilderness series tires were manufactured at the company's Decatur, Illinois, plant.

The recall came after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating whether 62 fatal automobile accidents were linked to problems with Firestone tires.

In another development Thursday, Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain reportedly plans to summon top executives of Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone to testify about their handling of the massive tire recall that has roiled both companies.

The Arizona Republican plans to invite Ford Chief Executive Jacques Nasser, Bridgestone/Firestone Executive Vice President John Lampe, officials with the NHTSA and consumer advocates to a September 6 hearing, a congressional staff member told The Wall Street Journal's online edition.

Firestone has begun airlifting tires from its manufacturing plants in Japan as part of its replacement effort. The first flight left Wednesday, and 10 more flights are planned before Monday. In a change from the original recall directive, Firestone is allowing motorists to replace their tires through other tire dealers, instead of authorized Firestone outlets.



RELATED STORIES:
Florida drivers may drop class action lawsuit
August 18, 2000
Higher death toll from accidents involving Firestone tires, NHTSA says
August 15, 2000
Florida drivers want Firestone to replace tires immediately
August 14, 2000
Firestone recall, plant come under fire
August 13, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Center for Auto Safety
Bridgestone/Firestone
Ford Motor Company
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


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