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OnStar probed over wrong location in South Bay ravine crash

After a 28-year-old Campbell woman crashed her Chevrolet Cruze about 500 feet down a mountain this week, she was in bad shape. But the car sprung into action.

Its on-board computer, General Motors’ OnStar system, sent detailed information to a company specialist: The sedan had not only wrecked, but had rolled over. The specialist called police in Campbell, letting them know they had an emergency on their hands.


But there was a problem: The location of the crash, where the woman had been ejected and lay face-down in a ravine, was off by a good 15 miles.

General Motors officials said they were looking into what happened with the GPS-based system, but declined to be interviewed about the situation, which illustrated the power of location-based technologies and how interwoven they have become in people’s lives. The California Highway Patrol is also investigating the crash.

The woman in the Chevrolet, Melissa Vasquez — who crashed just after 2 p.m. Monday and was finally found at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday on Mount Hamilton east of San Jose, thanks to yet another location-based technology linked to her iPhone — was recovering Wednesday at a hospital. She is expected to survive.

“We are saddened by this incident involving one of our subscribers,” General Motors said in a statement. “Our subscribers’ safety and security is OnStar’s utmost concern. We are currently conducting a complete investigation, including information we have received from our call centers, our cellular network provider, our engineering team and the local authorities to better understand what occurred.”


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Just a theory here...

The car's OnStar needed to be in line of sight with 2 (or 3) GPS satellites to accurately determine it's location. The car was upside down, and 500 feet down a mountain. Might inhibit OnStar's function. For OnStar to call out (which apparently it could) it would only need to be in line of sight of one cell tower.

Her cell was with her (?) when she was ejected. Maybe at that location, multiple satellites and/or cell towers could be accessed.
 

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Her life was saved due to her not using "strong" password protection.

Probably "1-2-3-4", just like on my luggage.
 

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My OnStar seems to have no problem finding me in my new Verano T. It is always calling me asking if I like it or have any questions.
 

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Just a theory here...

The car's OnStar needed to be in line of sight with 2 (or 3) GPS satellites to accurately determine it's location. The car was upside down, and 500 feet down a mountain. Might inhibit OnStar's function. For OnStar to call out (which apparently it could) it would only need to be in line of sight of one cell tower.

Her cell was with her (?) when she was ejected. Maybe at that location, multiple satellites and/or cell towers could be accessed.
I'm certainly no tech expert, but I believe you may be correct. This reminds me of my numerous trips through our nation's mountain ranges. My non-OnStar GPS systems do not seem to be able to pinpoint my location in certain areas. I've used OnStar many times, but not as a GPS device in the mountains. However, I've been able to use both a cell phone and my OnStar phone in those same areas...

Perhaps one of our members here who are far more tech savvy than me can enlighten us...:)
 
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