After witnessing a fatal crash and learning of a dangerous flaw in some Jeep models, a Virginia woman ran a grass-roots campaign for their recall, as described in this memoir.
In October 2012 on Virginia’s I-81, stalled traffic stopped Embrey’s car and the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee behind her. A big rig hit them both. Embrey witnessed two Jeep passengers die, trapped in flames, one still trying to get out; her father managed to save a third. Afterward, Embrey experienced PTSD; she woke up screaming from horrible nightmares of charred skeletons. Her distress worsened when she learned a badly placed fuel tank was a known problem in some Jeep models. People were surviving Jeep crashes only to be burned to death. Embrey realized she “had to do something…to inform others about the potential danger of certain-model Jeeps.” Remembering a news report about a successful Change.org petition, Embrey began one of her own to demand a recall, setting a goal of 100,000 signatures and eventually gathering more than 128,000. She collected supporting evidence, talked to experts, sought guidance from sources like the Center for Auto Safety, contacted journalists, posted on social media, wrote to government officials, and arranged a billboard. Her efforts gained attention, but Embrey never got the recall she wanted. She writes persuasively of what seems like backroom dealing between Chrysler and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; she notes that “ConsumerAffairs.com named NHTSA’s handling of the Jeep recall, or rather lack thereof, in their Top 10 Scams, Scandals, & Outrages of 2013.” A medical review transcriptionist, Embrey had no previous media or activist training, performing advocacy out of pocket while caring for two children, an intellectually disabled cousin, and the pets she owned and fostered. The writing is sometimes overly earnest—“The Roe parents exchanged glances relaying their loving gratitude at being alive and blessed with each other, their boys, and another beautiful day”—but Embrey has made painstaking efforts to present her case and check her facts. Her compassion and hard work come through, but it’s her carefully presented evidence that convinces readers justice has not been served.
Disheartening about big companies and government; encouraging about the human natures of people like Embrey.