SUV Convenience Feature Is Fatal for US Agent

Doors unlocked on Jaime Zapata's $160K armored Chevy Suburban
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2012 2:31 PM CST
SUV Convenience Feature Is Fatal for US Agent
A burnt SUV found on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico is seen in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

US special agent Jaime Zapata was killed last year in Mexico while he was inside a state-of-the-art, $160,000 armored Chevy Suburban. So why didn't it save him? Because when he threw the car into park, the doors automatically unlocked, the Washington Post reports. This convenience feature, which makes sense for hurried suburban moms, but not agents in a war zone, rendered all that armor useless, as Zeta cartel members pulled open the doors.

Had the doors remained locked, "Zapata would probably still be alive today," opined one congressman who's pressing US agencies to clarify what happened. The US employs hundreds of similar armored SUVs around the world. It's unknown how many might have the same flaw, but officials say the entire Mexico fleet was reprogrammed after the incident to remove it. BAE Systems, which outfitted the SUV, says that "the government customer is aware of the importance of disengaging the auto-unlock feature." (Read more armored car stories.)

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