Troubleshooter helps Durham woman after faulty headrest deploys

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There is a safety feature in your headrest that can protect you when in a crash, but a Durham couple said they were just driving on the highway and out of the blue their headrest deployed.

"It came forward and pushed me like popped me in the back of the head violently," Lolita Deberry said. I was a little dazed because it hit me hard in the head."

At first, Deberry and her husband, who was driving, though they were hit from behind, so they pulled over and looked around.

"I didn't hit nobody, no one hit us, and when he came back he said the headrest," she said.

The headrest in her 2014 Dodge Durango deployed.

Some vehicle headrests are designed to pop open during a crash; they are known as Active Head Restraints and are intended to prevent whiplash, but in Deberry's case, there was no crash, instead, she says it just happened while they were driving down the street.

"I'm scared it's going to happen on the driver's side while I'm driving," she said.

Deberry is not alone. We showed you these two cases in 2018 after two different Jeep Grand Cherokee owners said the headrests in their jeeps also deployed without being in a crash.

At the time, Chrysler told us that it's not a safety issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the issue.

The agency's investigation is limited to the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2014 Dodge Durango, Deberry's vehicle.

Deberry reached out to the Troubleshooter after she said she couldn't get the manufacturer to fix her headrest.

"I need my car. I need it and it's sitting, because I am afraid to drive it. I'm just not going to take the chance of it happening me on a highway or me having the kids in the car," Deberry said.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson got in touch with Fiat Chrysler Automotive and a representative provided this statement: FCA vehicles meet or exceed all federal safety requirements. Customer safety is a top priority at FCA. Active head restraints enhance vehicle safety. Evaluations confirm that even in the rare event of inadvertent deployment there is no unreasonable risk of injury. Absent such risk, there is no safety defect. FCA strongly objects to any alternate characterization.

After ABC11 got involved, Deberry said a representative with FCA reached out and fixed her headrest free of charge. She is happy with the resolution

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said it encourages consumers to contact the agency with any information related to this or any other safety issue by filing a Vehicle Safety Complaint or by calling (888) 327-4236."
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