General Motors CEO faces questions over recall timeline

Families of those who died in crashes related to the GM ignition switch faults held a news conference this week.
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General Motors faces new troubles related to the ignition switch problems thought to be responsible for at least 12 deaths.

The company's head came face-to-face with lawmakers following an emotional meeting with the families of accident victims Monday night.

General Motors' problems keep growing along with its list of recalled cars. The nation's second-biggest auto-maker is now recalling another 1.3-million cars in the United States that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering, resulting in a higher risk of a crash.

The new list now includes 2004-2009 Malibus, along with five other GM models, and it comes as GM's CEO is apologizing to customers.

"Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened," said GM CEO Mary Barra.

Barra was apologizing for failing to order a recall when it first learned of a serious safety flaw involving ignition switches.

At least 12 deaths are believed to be linked to the defect, including 18-year-old Natasha Weigel and 15-year-old Amy Rademaker, who died after their Chevy Cobalt lost power, then crashed into a tree in 2006.

"These were our children! And they just acted like they don't matter! They may not have mattered to GM but they mattered to us," said Margie Beskau, Amy Rademaker's mother.

The NBC News investigative unit has obtained an internal GM memo suggesting a design engineer knew about the ignition switch problem in 2006 and signed a document authorizing a redesign.

The engineer was Ray DeGiorgio. Under oath, in a lawsuit deposition from 2013, DeGiorgio said he did not know about the changes to the switch.

"So if any such change was made, it was made without your knowledge and authorization?" he was asked.

"That is correct," he responded.

But the GM document authorizing changes to the switch was signed by DeGiorgio himself, suggesting the company knew about the problem eight years before the recall and even changed the part. But they never told GM customers who never knew they were at risk.

Now, the witness table is set for today's hearing on Capitol Hill, and CEO Mary Barra is sure to be grilled.

"GM knew and accepted that they were willing to have this switch that didn't meet their own specifications. Now, we need to ask why that was and what was the reason they went ahead and did it anyways," said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PN).

See recall information here.