Airbag Rupture Kills 10th Person in US, Consumers Urged to Get Vehicles Checked

By Sherley Boursiquot, Epoch Times
April 8, 2016 11:40 am Last Updated: April 10, 2016 5:33 pm

Last month, a high school senior from Richmond, Texas, became the 11th person known worldwide to have died due to a Takata airbag inflator that ruptured after a minor car crash.

Huma Hanif, 17, was driving a 2002 Honda Civic when she crashed on March 31 in Fort Bend County.

14 automakers have recalled about 24 million vehicles have 28 million Takata airbag inflators.

“A piece of the metal fragment was found lodged in her neck,” Sheriff Troy Nehls said during a news conference. “The metal fragment came from the airbag. The airbag inflator ruptured, causing the metal fragment to be forced through the airbag, striking Ms. Hanif.”

The metal piece from the airbag that was involved in the victim's death. (Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office)
The metal piece from the airbag that was involved in the victim’s death. (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office)

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Hanif was the “10th U.S. fatality tied to ruptures of Takata airbag inflators and 11th confirmed worldwide.”

“This was a tragic accident that could have been avoided,” Nehls said at the press conference. “Everyone should have walked away from this accident.”

The cause of the crash was not the speed, nor the use of electronic devices, such as a cell phone or radio. It was simply because of the faulty airbag:

“Our message today is to re-engage the community, bringing awareness to vehicle recalls, specifically airbag recalls,” Hanif said.

Huma Hanif's car after the crash (Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office)
Huma Hanif’s car after the crash. (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office)

As of late, 14 automakers have recalled about 24 million vehicles that have about 28 million Takata airbag inflators. According to Safercar.gov, more than 7.5 million passenger- and driver-side airbags have been repaired as of March 11, 2016.

About 70–90 million more Takata airbags inflators could face U. S. recalls, a source told Reuters.

In a statement, Takata said: “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the driver’s family in light of this tragic death. Takata is deeply sorry for all fatalities and injuries that have occurred in any case where a Takata airbag inflator has failed to deploy as intended. Takata continues to support all actions that advance vehicle safety and is in constant and close coordination with NHTSA to enhance consumer awareness.”

MORE: Scientists Find Cause of Takata Air Bag Explosions

Below are 10 people who have died since May of 2009  in the United States due to the explosions of Takata air bags. Nine of those U.S. deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles, Honda said.

May 27, 2009: Ashley Parham, 18, of Midwest City, Oklahoma, 2001 Honda Accord

Dec. 24, 2009: Gurjit Rathore, 33, of Richmond, Virginia, 2001 Honda Accord

Sept. 13, 2013: Hai Ming Xu, of Alhambra, California, 2002 Acura TL

July 27, 2014: Law Suk Leh of Sibu, Malaysia, 2003 Honda City

Sept. 7, 2014: Jewel Brangman, 26, of California, 2001 Honda Civic

Sept. 29, 2014: Hien Thi Tran, 51, of Orlando, Florida, 2001 Honda Accord

Jan. 18, 2015: Carlos Solis, 35, of Spring, Texas, 2002 Honda Accord

April 15, 2015: Kylan Langlinais, 23, of Lafayette, Louisiana, 2005 Honda Accord

July 22, 2015: Unidentified 13-year-old boy, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 2001 Honda Accord

Dec. 22, 2015: Joel Knight, 52, of Kershaw, South Carolina, 2006 Ford Ranger

March 31, 2016: 17-year-old girl, Fort Bend County, Texas, 2002 Honda Civic

To see if your car is included in the Takata recall, visit safercar.gov.

“Take advantage of this website and make sure your vehicle is not on a recall list,” Nehls said.