Ford recalls '01-'04 Escapes after deadly Arizona crash

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Ford Motor Company says it is recalling 421,000 Escapes from 2001-2004 because of a defect in cruise control cables that can cause unintended acceleration.

The recall comes six month after Saige Bloom, a teenager from Payson, was killed  when her accelerator apparently got stuck and she was unable to stop the car.

"I literally sat down and started crying," Ryan Bloom, Saige's father, said of his reaction to the recall. "Some time has passed since the accident and I've now realized action is being taken. It hurts but it's almost tears of joy."

The recall comes days after the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would open an investigation into issues with the Escape and with the Mazda Tribute, a mechanical sibling to the Escape.

That investigation was prompted in part by the work of Phoenix attorney's hired by the Bloom family.

"It represents an acknowledgment that there's a defect in the Ford Escape and that Ford is owning up to it," said Bob Boatman of Gallagher & Kennedy  law firm.

Ford says the issue has to do with cruise control cables that may have been damaged as repairs were made on previous recalls.

Boatman says the defective cables can cause the vehicle's throttle to essentially get stuck."You're going down the road and your car will go as fast as it can go if you're pressing fully on the accelerator and there's nothing you can to do dislodge it," he said.

Ford says they are recalling the Escapes with 3-liter V-6 engines to increase the clearance beneath the engine cover. But the Blooms and their attorneys say that's not enough. "Our experts think more than that needs to be done to make sure that this problem doesn't happen again," Boatman said.

"We would definitely like to see this throttle cable fixed, there's no reason this should happen to other families," Bloom said.

NHTSA has reported 99 complaints related to stuck throttles in the Ford Escapes and Mazda Tributes from 2001-2004, including 13 crashes and nine injuries.

Ford owners with the models in question should contact their dealerships.