Date: June 5, 2005

Victim: Ella Mae Braswell, Lon Braswell

Location: Athens, Ga.

Model: 2005 Toyota Camry

Details: Ella Mae and Lon Braswell were traveling near Athens, Ga., when their Camry suddenly veered off the northbound lane of Georgia 24 and sped 200 yards along the shoulder before crashing headlong into a tree, according to the Georgia State Patrol.

The police report said the car left the roadway "for unknown reason" shortly after 4 p.m., and that no witnesses could be located. The driver, Ella Mae Braswell, was 85. Her husband Lon was 87. They had been married 68 years.

After raising their daughter and two sons in Virginia the Braswells retired to Florida in 1977, indulging their love of square dancing and travel. They visited all 50 states, capping the adventure with a Hawaiian vacation in 2003.

Their son Henry has been haunted by the accident for five years.

"I went up to Athens a week or so after it happened. I met with the investigating officer and at the time neither one of us could make any sense in the world of why she would have been going at that high rate of speed and making no effort to let off the gas," Braswell said. "I've just been dumbfounded."

The 2005 Camry has not been included in any of the recent recalls. Still, the rash of reports about runaway Toyotas has made Braswell suspect unintended acceleration as a possible cause for the accident.

"The investigating officer informed me that my mother had not slowed down and was traveling at a high rate of speed when leaving the road. There was not any indication that she tried slowing down," Henry Braswell recounted in a complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Braswell said he asked for an investigation at the time of the crash but was told that the vehicle was too badly damaged to determine whether a defect or malfunction might have led to the accident.

-- Stuart Pfeifer, Carol J. Williams and Robert Faturechi Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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