24-year-old Anthony Burgess Jr. of Indianapolis, Indiana, lost his life when he tried to save his 3-year-old daughter after his 2008 Pontiac G6 rolled into a retention pond. He got out for a minute to talk with a friend while the toddler was still inside, and the vehicle rolled into the pond at an apartment complex. He jumped in and attempted to save her but died in the process.
Burgess was chatting with his friend, Bobby Malone, at the Core Riverbend Apartments. Neither Burgess nor Malone knew how to swim, but they dived in, anyway, when the G6 backed into the water. Malone was able to make his way back to the shore while another 30-year-old male bystander jumped in to rescue the girl, still trapped inside. Fortunately, he was able to save her, but when he went back to help Burgess, already under water, his own inability to swim forced him to turn back to shore half way there.
Burgess was pulled from the pond by first responders and rushed to St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital where hospital personnel reported he had been under the water for nearly twenty minutes. He could not be resuscitated. His daughter was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and remains in a critical but stable condition. Divers found the G6 25 feet under water and 50 feet out from the shore.
On April 30, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a recall from General Motors that included the Pontiac G6 Burgess was driving that day, which was discovered after the tragic event. It stated there was a chance that car could roll away, even if the light indicated the vehicle was in the park position. The recall – notice number 14V224000 – included more than a million cars, and the specified consequence stated, “If the transmission shift cable fractures while the vehicle is being driven, the transmission gear selection may not match the indicated gear and the vehicle may move in an unintended or unexpected direction, increasing the risk of a crash. Furthermore, when the driver goes to stop and park the vehicle, despite selecting the PARK position, the transmission may not be in PARK. If the vehicle is not in the “PARK” position there is a risk the vehicle will roll away as the driver and other occupants exit the vehicle or anytime thereafter. A vehicle rollaway increases the risk of injury to exiting occupants and bystanders.”
General Motors asked owners to schedule an appointment with a GM dealer to replace the shift cable assembly and mounting bracket free of charge. The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit based in Washington, says in each of the last three years, more than 50 million vehicles were subject to a recall, each tied to different notices. Yet, GM only has to notify original vehicle owners. It is unclear whether Burgess was the original owner, but when the connection was made, the U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed the required repair work was never performed on his car.