Conway mom blasts General Motors for defect that cost 13 lives

A Conway woman is among those who lost family members because of an ignition defect in General Motors cars that's been linked to 13 deaths.

Terry DiBattista says she helped her daughter pick out a 2005 Chevy Cobalt because of its safety features.

But now, DiBattista is among those who call the cars death traps.

GM's new CEO took a grilling about the faulty switch Tuesday from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Congress wants to know why neither GM nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acted sooner to recall millions of cars with the problem.

The defect shuts down power to the car and safety systems, including the air bags.

Records indicate GM was aware of the problem as early as 2001.

"I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced for this program, but I can tell you we will find out," GM CEO Mary Barra told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Amber Marie Rose, 16, died when the car she was driving slammed into trees in Dentsville, Maryland in 2005.

DiBattista was Amber's adoptive mother.

Amber had been speeding after a night of drinking at a party, but investigators determined the car's defective ignition switch that disabled the airbags is what led to her death.

"She made a bad decision, but because of the car and the airbags not deploying, that's why she's dead," DiBattista told CNN.

DiBattista joined family members of other crash victims outside the nation's capital Tuesday to complain that GM knew about the faulty switches for more than a decade before issuing a recall.

"I feel that GM needs to be held accountable to the public for the deadly and tragic consequences allowing these deadly switches to be used," said DiBattista.

Lawmakers said fixing the switches would have cost GM about two dollars per car.

The victims' families were also critical of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was aware of the faulty switch for years but did not order a recall.

The families want Congress to pass a law giving the public more access to information about car defects.

"Please help us protect our children and pass legislation to make sure it doesn't ever happen again," said Amber's birth mother, Laura Christian.

Christian said GM executives made a decision that fighting the problem was easier than fixing it. She pushed the automaker to get the remaining defective cars off the road immediately.

Sarah Trautwein, 19, from Lexington, SC was among those whose death has been blamed on the defective switch.