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Toyota Hearing Drama: 'I Wanted To Hear His Voice One More Time'

Update at 12:52 p.m. ET: Just moments ago there was gripping, emotional testimony at the Congressional hearing into Toyota's safety problems from a woman who had a terrifying, 100-miles-per-hour ride in her accelerating Toyota-made Lexus in October 2006.

Rhonda Smith of Seiverville, Tenn., told of trying to control the vehicle and of the Bluetooth-enabled call she made to her husband as she tried to figure out a way to get out of the horrible ordeal. "I knew he could not help me," Smith said, as she struggled to hold back tears, "but I wanted to hear his voice one more time":

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She had harsh words for both Toyota, which she says tried to deny there was any problem with the vehicle, and with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for not adequately overseeing the carmaker. "Shame on you," she said to both of them:

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Smith's husband Eddie said "to Toyota ... your quality and safety record has been totally destroyed." To NHTSA, he said, "you've totally failed the American public. ... You, as our government watchdog, need to stop feeding from your Japanese bowl":

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As we reported earlier, Toyota executives are apologizing for the problems with some vehicles' brakes and accelerators, and are restating their view that they've got solutions and are fixing the cars.

Our original post — "Toyota Hearings Start With Focus On Electronics In Accelerators":

At the opening of Congressional hearings on the brake and accelerator problems in some Toyota vehicles, much of the focus has been on whether the company really has figured out why some of its models might suddenly accelerate.

Though Toyota USA President and Chief Operating Officer James Lentz tells the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in his testimony that "we are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles," lawmakers have already said they aren't so sure.

One of them, Committee Chairman Howard Waxman, D-Calif., also said that "Toyota failed its customers and the government neglected its responsibilities" in overseeing the carmaker.

You can get to a webcast of today's hearing by clicking here. NPR.org will have more news from it as the day continues. Tomorrow, Toyota President Akio Toyoda is due to testify.

MSNBC is also webcasting the hearing here and has provided an embed code for others:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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