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 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. Sinfully Yours

    Wow, novelle thought! Take your foot off the gas and try pressing the brake instead. If you are too panicked to think of that, perhaps shifting into neutral would help.

    August 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan Crocker

      She probably froze at the wheel, panicked, and didn't know what to do to resolve it.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • R. King

      If she's too panicked to think of hitting the brakes, she shouldn't be driving a car.

      (Funny, she wasn't too panicked to place at least TWO phone calls.)

      I spoke with someone who sells these cars (Kia Sorento.) The driver had the following options:

      1. Use the brakes. They're more than capable of stopping the vehicle, even if the thing's going 100 (which it certainly wasn't at the beginning of this drama.)
      2. Turn off the ignition using the KEY.
      3. Shift into neutral. The gears selector has to be moved to the right before moving it upwards into neutral. chances are the driver forgot that detail and just moved the lever upwards, which would have up-shifted the transmission.
      4. Downshift. This would have slowed the car down, but not stopped it.

      Any of those things would have at least mitigated the speed and most likely would have ended the incident.

      This is yet another example of the quality of driving "skills" that are accessible in this country. If you have a pulse, you can get a license.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    There is another position opposite of "on", that the *ignition key* will go, and it is called "OFF". This is usually a good contingency plan for cars that have a stuck carburetor throttle.
    Since she couldn't figure that out, once she was a couple miles an hour over the legal speed limit, she should have a speeding ticket for being 50 mph over it.
    Using 911 for this? They probably had to put the gunshot victim on the other line "on hold", to satisfy this driver.
    I'd take that rice burner and junk it.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Guess you missed the point where she stated it was a push button ignition which means no key to turn off. Shift into N would be your best bet.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • R. King

      Rob, you are incorrect. Kia has their operator manuals available online. Even with a push-button start, there is still a conventional ignition key, which, conveniently, comes with an "off" position.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    I highly doubt that this woman was think all that coherently when all of this happened...and there are more than one 911 dispatchers, who are TRAINED to deal with ALL kind of life-threatening situations, which this one CLEARLY was...her being on a highway and all.

    My brakes completely failed about 8 months ago, and believe me, the feeling of helplessness was not fun.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan Crocker

    Turn off the key. Power steering and brakes will be harder but you will slow down.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    A stuck throttle, as rare as that probem is, is a lot of times caused by a broken motor mount.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Did you say coherent? COHERENT?

    August 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. saywhat

    A harrowing experience which thankfully did not end in tragedy.

    You endured a similar experience and I'm so glad you are here with us.
    Good morning all.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Thanks, saywhat; I'm kinda glad I'm still here, also.
      And, good morning.

      August 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. just eye

    Lol, women drivers yo...

    August 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I guess your right banasy.
    driver: "911?" "I got one heck of a buzz going on, and a and a I can't find the ignition key" "Oh..this is Onstar? I'm sorry"

    August 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      If a driver has *that* much of a buzz going, Onstar would probably say, "sorry, sir, can't help you".

      August 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rocky

    Hey Lady, cars can't go in neutral gear and they also won't go if you turn the ignition switch off. You need some basic driver's education. Stay off the road until you learn how to drive. What a dork

    August 28, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    I need to find a good offensive driving course. So I can delibratley hit other cars.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Go to an amusement park, Jeff; they're called "bumper cars", lol...

      August 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Nooooo? Maybe they'd tell her where to get her next fix.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Onstar can probably point him back into the direction of the bar he just exited from.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TheHuntresss

    Turning the car off in the middle of a freeway is also a gamble, because if it's not clear to get over before you drop to a slower speed, you risk the collision with another vehicle going 60 MPH. It's not as easy as it sounds. My suzuki had an accelerator that stuck on occasion, and it always happened on the freeway. The panic that took over in unimaginable, and all I could do was hit the break and hope it unstuck. Luckily, there was a recall weeks later from suzuki, and it was fixed promptly by them.
    Glad it turned out okay for her.

    August 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jackie

    so easy for everyone to suggest what she could have done but as much fear and adrenaline she was is im sure she was more worried about dying or hurting others rather then what she could have done. Panic dont help people think clearly

    August 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • R. King

      And THAT is the problem - she panicked. If she'd kept a cool head she could have dealt with the stuck throttle in a few seconds. Instead she when on a 60+ mile "ride of terror."

      Folks who easily panic in situations like this have no business driving. They're incapable of dealing with a driving emergency. I put them just one tier above drunk drivers - along with the folks texting and applying makeup while driving.

      "But some people can't help it!" Really? Tough. Learn to drive, and drive WELL, or don't operate 3800# of steel going 70mph.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cole Trickle

    Put it in neutral and let the motor blow.

    August 28, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • R. King

      It won't even do that. The rev-limiter will keep the motor's speed down.

      August 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
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