Kenny Harp and Debbie Neal, both of Pettigrew, filed a lawsuit on Oct. 10 against Rainbow Cycle and Marine as well as American Honda Motor Company contending that an accident that they were involved in on Oct. 15, 2016, was the result of a defective throttle pedal on a 2016 Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side recreational off-highway vehicle.

On June 13, 2019, American Honda issued a recall of all 82,000 units of its 2016-2019 Honda Pioneer 1000 side-by-side vehicles due to a crash and injury hazard that resulted from a throttle defect that causes the throttle to stay stuck in an open position while in operation.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Madison County Circuit Court, states that after the recreational vehicle was purchased in Oct. 2015, it was kept on Harp’s property in Pettigrew.

The next year, on Oct. 15, 2016, Harp and Neal were hosting a football party at their home. During halftime, they took three of their guests for a ride on Madison County Road 4685 in the Honda to feed Harp’s horses, which lived on property that Harp had rented. Harp was driving the vehicle and Neal was seated in the middle of the rear bench passenger seat with guests seated to her left and to her right. Another guest was in the passenger side next to Harp.

As he drove the vehicle up an incline, Harp pushed on the Pioneer’s throttle pedal to maintain power. The pedal stuck and would not release as the vehicle approached the top of the incline.

The lawsuit states that as Neal became concerned about the vehicle’s speed as there was a curve to the right at the top of the incline. Neal yelled for Harp to slow down and he yelled that he couldn’t and that the vehicle was out of control.     

The vehicle left the road with its left wheels in the ditch and “violently struck an embankment, causing the vehicle to become airborne and crash into a tree,” the lawsuit contends.

Neal was throw from the Honda and lost consciousness. Harp was trapped inside and lost consciousness.

“One of the Plaintiffs’ guests was able to retrieve Plaintiff Neal’s cell phone from the wreckage and contact a neighbor, who drove to the scene of the crash. The neighbor then called 911, and police and medical personnel were called to the scene,” according to the lawsuit.

Both Neal and Harp, after being extracted from the Honda, were taken via ambulance to the Pettigrew Post Office. Neal was “medevacked” to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo., and Harp was flown to Washington Regional in Fayetteville.

Harp and Neal are seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as other costs associated with the lawsuit.

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