How a series of accidents on its tires put the manufacturer Goodyear under pressure

And suddenly, the horror… Mario Martins Cardoso will never forget this Thursday, July 17, 2014. This Portuguese electromechanic is driving on the A1 motorway, towards Paris, when, around 1:30 p.m., near Roye (Somme) , he saw in front of him a thick plume of black smoke rising towards the sky then a car rolling over before stopping on its side. The 37-year-old man got out of his vehicle to help the passengers of the damaged BMW. He manages to extract, from the passenger side, a woman, four months pregnant and slightly injured, as well as her 9-year-old daughter trapped in the back, “covered all over in blood”, according to his account. However, the little girl only suffers bruises: this blood is that of her father, Luis Lesmes, who died while driving. Clarification which will be important: this British national of Venezuelan origin was an important executive of Glencore, an international behemoth specializing in the trading, brokerage and extraction of raw materials.

Questioned by investigators, Elvia Campins Sanchez, miraculously escaped from the tragedy, as well as her unborn child, remembers: “A road complex was in front of us, my husband was going [le] exceed. At one point, I heard a loud noise, like an explosion. The truck veered into our lane and we were unable to avoid the impact. » The driver of the heavy goods vehicle, a MAN truck, owned by the company Transports Dubois, was unhurt. Findings of the police : the accident was caused by the burst of the front left tire of the vehicle, a Goodyear Marathon LHS II+. This famous model involved, like its predecessor, the LHS II, in a series of suspicious accidents and which the American manufacturer, since the spring of 2014, has been trying – on the sly – to withdraw from the market, without going through an official “recall” procedure. of defective product”. The same goes for the Dunlop SP 344, also produced by the multinational. The LHS II, on the other hand, is not targeted by the exchange campaign. A few days after the Roye accident, on July 23, 2014, the MAN company was informed by Goodyear of its commercial program intended to replace the Marathon LHS II+. Too late.

“This letter explained the return of certain tires in order to check their condition and, just in case, to exchange them if there was a failure”, will tell the gendarmes Marc Martinez, general director of MAN. His company will then increase the number of alert messages aimed at its customers, owners of trucks equipped with these tire models. But it was only on August 14 that MAN made Transports Dubois aware of this subject. In its letter, the company writes in black and white about the Marathon LHS II+: “Tire treads can come loose. » Annoying: in direct contact with the asphalt, these “strips” guarantee the grip of the tire; any failure on their part constitutes a mortal danger… On September 13, Laurent Dubois, manager of the eponymous company, sent the MAN note of August 14 to the gendarmes responsible for investigating the Roye pileup, with this comment: “The tires in question have a defect. »

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