August 28th, 2012
10:36 AM ET

With accelerator jammed at 120 mph, woman fears imminent death

A police dashcam video shows a dark SUV flying past cars and blowing through construction.

The driver's 911 call tells the rest of the story:  Lauri Ulvestad, utterly terrified, frantically steering a 2011 Kia Sorrento with a jammed accelerator taking it to speeds up to 120 mph.

“I told the dispatcher to tell my family I loved them,” Ulvestad, 47, told CNN.com by phone. “I did not think I was going to make it.”

Ulvestad credits dispatcher Kelly Brieg with keeping her calm and ultimately saving her life.

The Ames, Iowa, resident’s wild ride through Missouri and her home state of Iowa on Interstate 35 lasted about 30 minutes, Ulvestad told CNN affiliate KCCI. She was finally able to stop her car by simultaneously lifting up the accelerator and pushing the brake. She was not injured.

Irvine, California-based Kia Motors America Inc., issued the following statement to CNN:

"Our technicians have been unable to duplicate the issue and this appears to be an isolated incident. KMA will continue to investigate and analyze the facts of this situation and will work with the customer to resolve the matter in a timely manner."

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Filed under: Auto Industry • Automobiles
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. tonyh110

    I have this trouble all the time on the interstate – my gas pedal sticks at 90 or 100mph – and when the cops pull me over for speeding they just wont believe me

    August 29, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. mimi

    Just trying to figure out what took her so long to figure it out? How'd the car get to 120mph? If the pedal was jammed, wouldn't it jam at a speed she was going prior to the jam? Perhaps I'm overthinking.

    August 29, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. SillyMan1

    Why not just shift into neutral?

    August 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      thats what I said the last time these problems occured, if they are in fact a real problem. plus didn't think a kia could get to 120 without the hamsters giving out.

      August 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      Or turn off the key?

      August 30, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. TomTom

    Seriously, that`s a good sob story. But why not just cut the ignition? FAKE

    August 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff W

      Cut the ignition from 120 mph. Then you cut the power steering and the power brakes and a 120 MPH car is not an uncontrolable 120MPH Car.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SillyMan1

      @ Jeff: What about shifting into neutral? That shouldn't cut anything.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Imperial Jim

      Good reason to keep to "keys" for ignitions instead of push puttons to start cars. Just sayin...

      August 30, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. David

    As someone pointed out earlier, there would have to be multiple system failures, much less evidence of severe brake use if the woman actually attempted to use the brake to bring the car to a stop with the engine running and gear engaged. This reminds me of the story about a woman who said that she had no brakes and and on the 911 call claimed that should could not turn the ignition off or change gears. It was a new vehicle and she had angrily attempted to return the vehicle a short time before the incident, but was unable to do so, of course. The dealer could not find anyting wrong with the vehicle and the dealer claimed that the woman created a false situation in the hopes of returning the vehicle.

    However, there is no lack of extremely intellect deficient people with a drivers license, so this situation could possibly fall into either category of contrived drama or extreme idiocy. No doubt the follow up investigation will reveal which.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff W

    Only thing my Hyundai Elantra ever did that was annoying. The Brake would stick just enough to leave the brake lights on, I had to a couple of time just reach down and yank the brake pedal back.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pro2A

    Put it in neutral and start pumping the brakes. If the motor blows up so be it. No car is worth your, or anybody else's, life.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kelly

    Virtually every case of 'unintended acceleration' has been linked to faulty user issues. Many are the driver believing that they are pushing on the brake pedal and ensuing panic. Even poorly functioning brakes will stop a car with a huge V8 screaming past red-line. I'm calling B.S.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Richard

    I agree this is probably driver and not mechanical error, even if it were mechanical error it should not have been this big of an issue. True if you cut the ignition you loose power steering and power brakes, but they still function. Cars did not always have these systems yet they were still being driven for decades. It would take a little more effort to use them but it could have brought her safely to a stop on the side of the road. If you don't feel comfortable doing that put it in neutral, a vehicle that new should have a rev limiter to avoid the RPM's going high enough to blow the engine, even if it did who cares, would you rather have a car with a blown engine and be safe, or be killed after a high speed wreck?

    August 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    What are the statistical odds of;
    1-The ignition switch failing
    2-The neutral shift failing
    3-The accelerator module suddenly speeding up on its own
    4-The foot brake and hand brake mechanisms failing to slow the vehicle
    While ALL SIMULTANEOUSLY reverting back to perfect their own perfect functionability immediately after the car was brought to a stop- and no one was able to reproduce even one of the problems again.
    Who would put odds on:
    A-The above ever happening or
    B-An idiot lady driver who giggles about her insane experiences on national TV
    HHUUUUMMM let me think...

    August 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously

      Considering that all of these things are controlled by electronics now.....? It's possible.

      August 31, 2012 at 2:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. baycap

    A Kia can do 120 miles an hour? hmmmmmm.........

    August 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. G0tgot

    Turn the cruise control off duh

    August 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. HiTechRedneck

    Obviously none of you reading this are aware of the several million lines of code that cars operate on these days. Pedal mapping, transmission mapping, brake mapping, are ALL electronically controlled. Especially on "high-end" vehicles. If you had watched the vid you would know that the car DOES NOT have an ignition "switch"–it's a push button–meaning it can only be turned off when the park prawl is engaged. So, no, "shutting" it off was not possible.

    Also, the tranny mapping for these vehicles is extremely complex and, generally speaking, the shifter "locks" in to whatever mode: P, D, N, R, L. It's not impossible that, because the car was moving, the coding would not allow the transmission to shift–it's a safety feature to keep idiots from blowing up their motors and trannys.

    Basically, when you drive a computer, expect to have computer-related PROBLEMS.

    August 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • camel jockey

      To paraphrase HiTechRedneck; "Woman Drivers, No Survivors."

      August 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      "If you had watched the vid you would know that the car DOES NOT have an ignition "switch"–it's a push button–meaning it can only be turned off when the park prawl is engaged. So, no, "shutting" it off was not possible."

      This statement is incorrect. Most vehicles with this system are designed to be shut down by depressing the push button for several seconds.

      August 30, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Brendon

    "She was finally able to stop her car by simultaneously lifting up the accelerator and pushing the brake"

    Isn't that how one normally slows down?

    August 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. steve

    i work on kia's for a living. shes lucky she wasnt in a turbo sportage haha. but all jokes aside. if you do as you should and READ your owners manual BEFORE you drive your car you would find that is something like this does happen you have to push and hold your push to start button for about 10 seconds to shut it down.

    August 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
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