On July 7, a 2006 Ford Ranger driven by a 23-year-old struck a white sedan in Pensacola, Florida. A photo from local TV station WEAR shows the Ranger at the crash scene, looking like it sustained only minor damage. But WEAR reported that the driver of the Ranger was dead, while the 21-year-old driver of the white sedan was uninjured.
WEAR said at the time that no further details were released, though a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration document from July 19 reveals that a Florida Highway Patrolman had determined the 23-year-old died because of “driver’s side air bag deployment.” From the NHTSA document:
Takata Recall. The contact was a Florida Highway Patrolman who was filing a complaint on behalf of the deceased owner of a 2006 Ford Ranger. The contact stated that the driver of the vehicle was involved in a minor traffic collision; however, the driver suffered fatal injuries due to the driver’s side air bag deployment. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene of the collision. A police report was filed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The caller related the failure to NHTSA Campaign Number: 18V023000 (Air Bags). The failure mileage was unknown.
Ford Rangers from model year 2006 have been under recall for faulty Takata airbags since 2015, with more recalls tied to the problem since then. It was not clear Wednesday if this particular Ford Ranger had been repaired under the recall, and Ford did not comment by time of publication, nor did NHTSA. A contemporaneous press release from the Florida Highway Patrol described the 5:59 p.m. incident (without naming the victim) as follows:
Fatal accident occurred at the intersection of Mobile Hwy and Boulder Ave, when a white sedan failed to yield and pulled out in front of a gray, Ford pickup truck. The driver of the Ford pickup truck died as a result of his injuries.
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A spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol also confirmed that a patrolman had later made the determination that the Ranger driver had died from injuries caused by the airbag. The spokesman said, “the crash report and Traffic Homicide Investigation may take 90 days or more to complete before it is available.”
In April 2021, the 19th death in the U.S. blamed on Takata airbags was reported, with at least 28 deaths blamed on the issue worldwide. The airbags, which can send metal parts flying when deployed, prompted the biggest recall in automotive history.
You can view the relevant NHTSA document below.