NewsLocal News


Kia driver jumps out of burning vehicle during highway drive for 'chance to live'

Vehicle not part of recent engine recall
Kia driver jumps out of burning vehicle during highway drive for 'chance to live'
Posted at 3:13 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 20:56:14-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Golden Hill woman is hoping to raise money to aid in the recovery of her father, who says he had to jump from a runaway burning car during a highway drive.

On a Monday afternoon a few weeks ago, Robert Oladipo was driving in his 2016 Kia Forte just east of Washington D.C., out to get an oil change. He says he was driving about 40 miles per hour on a rural highway when smoke started coming through the vents in the car.

"While I see the smoke, I'm pressing the brake. Kept pressing and pressing, and it didn't work," said Oladipo.

Oladipo says moments later, he saw flames enveloping the car from the back and then the front.

"I can see the fire getting bigger and bigger. I feel I'm going to die in this car," said Oladipo.

Oladipo says he didn't panic and quickly made a decision.

"If I sit in the car I'm going to burn to death. If I jump, I might have a chance," said Oladipo.

Oladipo steered toward the grassy median and guardrail, opened the door, and jumped.

"I remember a lot of pain, first landing on my back, and then ending on my stomach. I remember hearing the explosion from the car," said Oladipo.

A Maryland State Police spokesperson says the car crashed into the guardrail, engulfed in flames.

Oladipo suffered several broken bones in his spine. He'll walk again, but faces a long recovery. His terrifying ride is now raising questions.

In December, Kia announced a recall of nearly 300,000 for engines at risk of catching fire while driving. Oladipo's 2016 Forte wasn't included in the recall, but 2012-to-2015 models were.

"They need to investigate this. They have to look more into this," said Oladipo.

Oladipo's daughter, Olivia, lives in Golden Hill.

"I can't imagine that level of terror. Just happy I get to sit next to him right now. They have to make sure this doesn't happy to anyone else," said Olivia Steadman-Oladipo.

Kia Motors America issued the following statement:

Kia Motors America (KMA) takes reported customer concerns seriously and it is important the owner contact Kia Consumer Affairs at 1-800-333-4542 so that we may have an opportunity to investigate this incident. Because all automobiles contain combustible materials and a fire may be the result of any number of complex factors, such as a manufacturing issue, inadequate maintenance, installation of aftermarket parts, an improper repair, arson, or some other non-vehicle source, each incident must be carefully evaluated by qualified and trained investigators and/or technicians. A safety recall is a highly regulated government mandated process that is triggered by the discovery of a defect impacting safety in a group of vehicles. Because injuries can be caused by any number of nonvehicle created sources and because a recall is intended to protect against future potential injuries, an injury without the identification of a vehicle defect, or a defect that does not arise in more than a single vehicle, does not trigger a recall.
Based upon current data, Kia is not planning a change in the scope of NHTSA Recall 20V750000. KMA continuously evaluates its vehicles as part of ongoing monitoring activities conducted as a standard practice on all Kia models and provides quarterly reports to NHTSA about any consumer complaints, notices or claims for any safety issues, including fires. KMA has, and will continue to, cooperate and collaboratively work with NHTSA on all matters related to vehicle safety and if a safety defect is detected through the course of vehicle monitoring, Kia promptly reports a safety related defect within the five days mandated by law.

Olivia says they do plan to report the crash to KIA, and they do plan to contact an attorney as well. According to Maryland State Police, an investigation is ongoing, but there is no evidence contradicting Oladipo's version of events.

Olivia hopes to fly back and forth from San Diego to help in her father's recovery and has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses.