OnStar Connections

January 14, 2013 by

Close to Home

Steve Schwinke with his son, Ryan, and daughter, Carly, standing next to their silver GMC truck.When the OnStar director of advanced technology's own family is involved in a crash that triggers an Automatic Crash Response, it hits close to home.Steve Schwinke helped develop OnStar’s simple three-button system and, over the past 16 years, has helped create and launch the company’s core safety and security services — everything from Stolen Vehicle Assistance to OnStar Vehicle Diagnostics. He’s also talked to many subscribers who have told him that OnStar has made a positive impact on their lives.

But until last fall, no one in Steve’s family had ever been involved in a crash.

Eighteen-year-old college student Ryan Schwinke was home for the weekend last October when his mom asked him to drive his 12-year-old sister Carly to the store. Ryan was happy to do it, and he and Carly piled into his Chevrolet Cobalt.

"I would never consider having any of my children drive a vehicle without OnStar."“I didn’t want to buy a new car for my son to drive, but I did because I believe GM makes very safe vehicles and because of OnStar,” says Steve. “I would never consider having any of my children drive a vehicle without OnStar.”

It was a rainy day and traffic was slow. Ryan was only going about 25 mph when the driver in front of him suddenly slammed on her brakes. Ryan tried to stop but there was no time. The airbags in his Cobalt went off as the front end of his car wedged under the car in front of him.

The OnStar Advisor immediately called into the car to see if anyone was injured and to say that help was already on the way. When Ryan wasn’t able to answer right away, Carly told the OnStar Advisor, “We’re OK.”

“When I got the call about the accident my first reaction was ‘Are my kids safe?’ because that is all that matters,” says Steve.  “I was confident the OnStar system would work and that before they even knew it, OnStar would be providing the help that they needed. My least concern was the vehicle damage — metal can be replaced.”

The Cobalt was totaled, but Ryan and Carly were fine. Emergency responders arrived in minutes. Ryan says that even though he knows all about OnStar — he was three when his dad began working there — up until the crash he had only used Turn-by-Turn Navigation. Seeing how Automatic Crash Response worked firsthand was an eye opener for him. “The OnStar Advisor took care of everything,” he says. “She offered to call my parents and she stayed on the line until the police arrived. Thankfully we were OK, but if one of us had been injured, having OnStar right there would have made all the difference in the world.”

Steve agrees wholeheartedly. “I always say one of my biggest fears is that other non-GM offerings will claim to have similar services like OnStar in addition to all the new infotainment stuff, and they lose sight of what it means when you make that commitment to your customers that you will be there when they need you the most,” he says. “At OnStar, we have never lost that passion or commitment to our customers. Over the past 16 years we have been upping our game in terms of product offerings, but our core commitment to safety and security is in our DNA. In the blink of an eye bad things can happen, and that is why I work at OnStar — because we are making a difference in people’s lives every day, and that’s pretty cool.”

Parents certainly need all the peace of mind they can get when their kids start driving. Here’s another story about how OnStar helped a 16-year-old who was driving alone when his truck hydroplaned and crashed.