Man Stuck In Cadillac XLR Over 13 Hours After Electric Door Release Handles Stop Working

Peter Pyros thought he was going to die after getting locked inside his luxury Cadillac. As he started to feel more sweat and steam than fresh air to breathe, he said he scribbled a note so that his family would not think he committed suicide. “This is a terrible death,” he said he wrote. “I can’t get out of the car.”

The 75-year-old said he became trapped in his 2006 Cadillac XLR last month when the vehicle’s key fob malfunctioned. And for nearly 14 hours, he was a prisoner in his car, the Washington Post reported.

“It was the most horrifying experience you can imagine,” he said Monday in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “I accepted, at some point, that this is how I’m going to die”. Pyros said he rarely drives his Cadillac, but with winter weather just around the corner, he thought he should run the engine and drive it in the neighborhood. He went out to his garage to start the car about 10 a.m. then planned to change clothes before taking it for a spin.

He didn’t take his cell phone with him, he said, and didn’t tell anyone what he was doing because he didn’t think he needed to. Pyros said he tried to start the engine but nothing happened. Then, he tried to open the doors and realized they wouldn’t budge.

Pyros said he replaced the batteries in the fob, but it still did not work. He tried again — flipping the batteries upside down, then back around the other way. Still nothing. After about 30 minutes, he said, he was starting to sweat and having a hard time catching his breath.

He said he had no tools or sharp objects in the vehicle, so he tried to punch out the window with his fist. When that didn’t work, he tried to kick out the glass with both feet.

During those nearly 14 hours, Pyros, who was struggling to breathe, passed out twice, he said. Each time he woke up, he said, he thought to himself, “I can’t believe I’m in this situation.” He was a 75-year-old man locked inside his own car.

Although he didn’t know it, his neighbor heard him pounding and sent him a text message. When the neighbor didn’t get a response, the neighbor hopped the fence and noticed that Pyros’s garage door was open. Pyros’s car was parked there with him locked inside.

His neighbor called 911 and it took quite a while for firefighters to try to free him. When the firefighters could not open the door, Pyros said, they had him pop the hood and jumped the engine.

GM said in a statement Monday that “any vehicle or key fob can lose power” and “that risk can increase as the vehicle ages.”

“Manufacturers provide a way to manually unlock the doors if the vehicle or fob loses power,” it said. “Because this varies by make and model, drivers should review the Door Lock section of their owner’s manual so they will know what to do. In the case of the XLR, there is a door release handle located on the floor, next to each seat.”

Pyros said he did not know there was a door release handle and, even if he had thought to read the owner’s manual, it was too steamy in the car to see it.

Pyros said he does not know whether he plans to take legal action; he said his current goal is to warn others so that they may avoid a similar situation.

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