Another person has been killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator, but this death wasn't the result of a crash. It is the first death to involve a person who was not involved in a vehicle accident. The individual, who was not the owner of the vehicle, died the next day from injuries.
It's the 12th USA death attributed to the faulty inflators and 17th worldwide, including five in Malaysia. The company said the person was using a hammer while the ignition switch was in the "on" position. The company has not been able to inspect the auto and is relying on police photos to make its determination, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said. An autopsy found that the cause of death were the metal and plastic fragments that cut her neck from the ruptured air bag. Honda said the hammer triggered the activation of the air bag inflator, which ruptured as the bag was being deployed.
Takata Corp.'s air bag inflators can explode with too much force, hurling shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Over 42-million vehicles from more than a dozen automakers have been recalled due to defective Takata airbag inflators. (Nationally, the tally is 45.8 percent.) Takata on Monday recalled another 2.7 million inflators it sold to Ford, Nissan and Mazda.
"It is hard to determine whether the cause of death in this incident was the inflator rupture, or an interaction of the hammer with the deploying airbag", Honda wrote Monday. By this year, the safety agency had extended the recall to cover almost 70 million air bags in 42 million vehicles of many makes and models. Completing that recall could have saved someone's life, and Honda says it continues to encourage people who own cars affected by the massive Takata airbag recall to schedule fix appointments with their dealers immediately.
The NHTSA said 2001-2003 model Honda and Acura vehicles have as high as a 50 per cent chance of a risky air bag inflator rupture in a crash.
Honda says its "records indicate that the recall fix was never completed on this vehicle".
The disclosure of the latest death came as a federal judge appointed a law professor, Eric Green, to supervise distribution of the fine imposed on Takata after its guilty plea.
He disclosed that Takata has recalled, or expects to recall, by 2019 about 125 million vehicles worldwide, including more than 60 million in the US.
Last month, Takata filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy listing liabilities of over 10-billion dollars.