The Takata exploding air bag phenomenon has apparently reached Texas. Yesterday, Honda Motor Co. made an announcement that the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord who was killed in an accident just outside Houston earlier this month could be the latest victim of the infamous defect with Takata air bags, in which they explode and send shrapnel into the cabin.
In this case, investigators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have joined the Harris County Sheriff’s Department to look into what has been described as a “low-speed crash” that occurred on January 18.
The victim, 35-year-old Carlos Solis, was turning left into the parking lot of an apartment building in Spring, Texas when he hit another vehicle. According to the police report, the air bag inflated and the deputy who responded to the scene noticed a large open wound to Solis’ neck. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences listed the cause of death as “blunt force injuries of the neck” in its preliminary report. The final autopsy has not been completed.
NHTSA said it was still collecting evidence about the crash, but if their investigation determines that the air bag inflator mechanism was indeed the cause of Solis’ death, he would be the sixth fatality due to this problem.
Honda stated that Solis’ vehicle was part of a voluntary recall it issued back in 2011. They noted that the car had been purchased on April 25, 2014 and that they had sent a recall letter to the previous owner in 2011, but had not sent a letter to the current owner. They are again urging anyone who owns a vehicle that is part of any air bag recall to take it in immediately to have it repaired.
The problem with Takata air bags is well-documented. To date, at least ten manufacturers have recalled 12 million vehicles in the U.S. and 19 million worldwide because of these problems, and lawmakers want to expand the scope. The inflators can sometimes explode with a force strong enough to blow apart a metal canister. When that canister comes apart, the metal fragments are shot into the vehicle’s passenger compartment. In addition to the five deaths confirmed so far, 64 others have been injured by this defect. According to the NHTSA and Takata, excessive exposure to high heat and humidity causes the propellant in the inflator to burn too fast, which is why the canisters blow apart.
This death hits close to home for Texas, and should remind Texans that this is a potentially very dangerous defect. It doesn’t take a high-impact highway accident to create a deadly problem. If you have received a recall letter related to Takata airbags, follow the instructions immediately. Even if you have not received one, find out if your vehicle has been recalled by using the NHTSA’s Vehicle-Identification-Number-lookup tool.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident, and you believe a defective safety device may have been fully or partly to blame, please contact the experienced Texas Automobile Defect Attorneys at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible to protect your rights.