New Takata Air Bag Death
Honda is confirming that a recent accident that killed a Houston man involved an exploding Takata air bag that is part of current recall efforts. It brings the total number of Takata air bag deaths to five in the U.S.
“Honda has communicated preliminary information collected to date about this crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” the automaker’s statement said. “The vehicle involved in this crash was included in a 2011 recall for the driver’s frontal airbag inflator, and our records indicate that the recall repair was never completed.
Carlos Solis was killed on January 18, 2015 after his 2002 Accord was involved in a relatively minor accident in Houston, Texas. His death appears to have resulted from lacerations caused by a piece of metal, which may have been shrapnel from an exploding airbag inflator.
Officials have not announced a cause of death, but a lawyer for the Solis family points to “blood all over the inside of the vehicle” in an otherwise “very small impact crash” as evidence that the inflator was to blame, according to a statement published by The New York Times.
The car, purchased used by Solis last April, was reportedly included in one of the first Takata airbag recalls dating back to 2011, however the previous owners did not have the car fixed. It was also listed in a more recent campaign dating back to June 2014, a recall for which Honda has not yet sent notices to owners.
U.S. Seeking Takata Air Bag Whistle Blowers
Meanwhile, U.S. safety regulators are looking for current and former Takata employees who may be able to come forward with information that would shed light on the company’s knowledge of defective airbags.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is acting on information that several Takata employees may have been asked to hide or alter data that pointed to quality control and safety issues.
“We encourage all individuals with information about the manufacture or testing of Takata air bag inflators, or who have knowledge of possible defects or any wrongdoing by the company, to make this information available to NHTSA,” agency spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told Reuters.
Anyone with information can call the NHTSA hotline at 1-888-327-4236. Those who come forward are protected from workplace retribution by federal law.
The ongoing recall covers millions of vehicles worldwide, and the defect has been linked to at least six deaths worldwide and multiple injuries, some as recently as this year. The scandal has taken a serious toll on Takata’s leadership, leading to the resignation of its president and general counsel.