The Ford Motor Company is recalling nearly half a million Escape model compact SUVs amid concerns over a potentially deadly problem with sticking accelerator pedals.
The new recall, which affects 2001 to 2004 models that have 3-liter, V-6 engines with cruise control or approximately 484,600 vehicles, was ordered after safety inspectors discovered the accelerator's speed control cables could become stuck on an engine cover when the pedal is almost fully depressed, according to a recall notice by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
The recall comes after ABC News' Phoenix affiliate, KNXV, launched an investigation into a Ford Escape crash that claimed the life of 17-year-old Saige Bloom. The Arizona teen lost control of her vehicle and crashed on a local road in January.
Moments before that crash, Bloom's mother, who was driving in another car behind her daughter, made frantic calls to 911 saying, "She cannot stop. We're coming to a red light and I don't know what to do for her," KNXV reported.
The younger Bloom plowed into another car and rolled three times. She later died of her injuries. According to KNXV, an inspector hired by the Bloom family later discovered the vehicle's speed control cable had broken and become lodged under the engine cover, meaning the throttle was stuck at near full speed.
Ford spokesperson Marcey Zwiebel told ABC News that the issue does not spontaneously cause the vehicle to accelerate, but the accelerator can only get stuck after the driver has pressed the pedal all the way, or most of the way down.
Zwiebel also said that the company has only recently been able to investigate the vehicle involved in Bloom's death, but said Ford's internal investigation was not solely based on that single incident. "We had a volume of data to review and analyze in order to ensure our investigation was thoroughly and properly implemented," Zweibel said.
In a customer information sheet, Ford said that most dealerships will not have the parts to permanently fix the problem just yet but said customers should go to their local dealership for an "interim repair, which will disable the speed control system on your vehicle to eliminate the possibility of a stuck throttle…"
"This temporary repair will allow you to continue driving your vehicle until parts for the permanent repair are available," the information sheet says.