Honda is now confirming a ninth airbag death in one of its vehicles equipped with faulty Takata inflators. The victim was a Pennsylvania teenager who died after crashing a 2001 Honda Accord last June. The Accord was part of recall efforts, but had not been fixed.
The death, first reported by U.S. auto safety authorities last week when they learned of the incident, is the eighth in the United States and ninth worldwide. It’s also the first reported U.S. death tied to the inflators since April.
After inspecting the vehicle, Honda said it “confirmed that the Takata driver’s front airbag inflator ruptured” and “injuries related to this airbag inflator rupture likely resulted in the tragic death of the underage driver.”
A NHTSA spokesman declined to comment.
Reuters reported that the death involved a 13-year-old boy who was in an early morning crash after he apparently took the keys without permission from a parent and got behind the wheel. Police say the teen drove off the side of the road, down an embankment and into a wooded area then hit a fallen tree, which ruptured the airbag. The teen died several days later.
Honda says it had sent the prior owner a recall notice in 2010 and had mailed a new one out to the Accord’s new owner on July 21, just one day before the crash.
In November, Takata agreed to pay a $70 million fine for safety violations and could face deferred penalties of up to $130 million under a NHTSA settlement.
Last week, the NHTSA named a former Justice Department official as a monitor to help regulators oversee one of the biggest and most complex safety recalls in U.S. automotive history. It encompasses 23 million airbag inflators in 19 million vehicles manufactured by 12 car companies. In the two-week period ending December 4, the NHTSA says just over 950,000 vehicles had been repaired.
An updated list of makes, models and model years affected by the Takata inflator recalls is available at Safercar.gov.