A faulty Takata airbag has killed a 19th person in the United States. Honda confirms that a South Carolina driver died when the airbag inflator of a 2002 Honda Accord ruptured. Honda had warned the various owners of the vehicle about the unresolved recall more than 100 times since 2011.
On January 9, Rekeyon Barnette turned left at an intersection in Lancaster, South Carolina, WCNC reported, and was involved in a crash. When the airbag deployed it caused severe trauma to his lower face. Barnette died as a result of his injuries.
On Wednesday, Honda and the National Highway Traffic Administration inspected the deployed airbag and confirmed that the inflator had ruptured, the Associated Press reported.
Here’s a our earlier recap explaining why Takata’s recalled airbags are so dangerous:
The key to making a safe airbag is to use propellants that are as stable as possible, and Takata’s descent into greed, death, and failure begins with its choice to move from an expensive and rare but stable propellant to the cheap and common but volatile explosive ammonium nitrate.
When an airbag with this volatile chemical deploys, the explosion can blow apart a metal inflator canister and propel deadly shrapnel into the vehicle. It’s especially tragic that a device meant to save lives instead takes them.
Honda says that the Accord involved in the crash was recalled in 2011 but never repaired. The company says that it tried contacting owners of the car over 100 times. From the AP:
Starting in June of 2011, the company made more than 100 attempts to reach owners of the car including mailed notices, phone calls, emails and even in-person visits, the statement said.
The Accord changed hands several times over the years. The most recent owner purchased the car in October 2020 got a recall notice on November 17. But Honda says the vehicle was never brought in for its repair.
The saddest part in all of this is that Barnette was not even the registered owner of the Accord. It’s unclear if Barnette was aware about the situation with the car’s airbags.
When you buy a car, always check to make sure it doesn’t have any unrepaired recalls. Enter the VIN into NHTSA’s site and it’ll tell you what you’re dealing with.