Toyota sued over August crash that killed CHP officer and three family members

Relatives of a California Highway Patrol officer and three family members who were killed in an August crash that touched off the recall of millions of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles filed a lawsuit Tuesday that blames the carmaker for their deaths.

FOR THE RECORD: An article in Wednesday’s Section A about a lawsuit in the car crash that touched off a Toyota recall incorrectly stated the first name of Mark Saylor, the California Highway Patrol officer who died in the crash, as John.

Off-duty CHP Officer John Saylor, his wife, daughter and brother-in-law died Aug. 28 when their 2009 Lexus ES350 took off at full throttle, reaching an estimated 120 mph in rush-hour traffic in suburban San Diego, before crashing and killing all four on board.

The brother of Saylor’s wife placed a chilling 911 call from the vehicle. He told an emergency dispatcher that the accelerator pedal was stuck and that Saylor was unable to slow the car down.

“We’re in trouble. . . . There’s no brakes. End freeway half-mile,” Christopher Lastrella said during the recorded conversation.

Saylor, 45, his wife, Cleofe, daughter Mahala and Lastrella were killed instantly.


Following that crash, Toyota recalled millions of cars to replace floor mats that it said could cause the accelerator to jam. The carmaker later recalled millions more vehicles to replace gas pedals that it said could stick.

The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed in San Diego County Superior Court. The Saylor family’s lawyers declined to comment.

Toyota officials have said they do not discuss pending litigation.