US: Houston accident with driver fatality linked to Takata airbags image

Japan’s third largest automaker, Honda Motor, announced on Thursday that a person driving a 2002 Accord was killed in a traffic accident last week in a Houston suburb and the Takata equipped airbags might have ruptured.

The Harris County Sheriff is currently investigating the accident, which happened on January 18 in Spring, Texas, north of Houston, with the driver identified as 35-year-old Carlos Solis. So far, the county medical examiner’s preliminary report states the driver was killed by “blunt force injuries to the neck.” That would be an early indicator of another Takata-built airbag malfunction. The Japanese auto safety parts supplier has been implicated in a string of recalls since 2008 (with most of them in 2013 and 2014, in the US) that have been so far linked to five deaths, including one pregnant woman in Malaysia (the fetus also died), numerous injuries and over 24 million recalled cars worldwide. The Takata-produced airbag inflator can rupture and explode with too much force, sending metal shrapnel and other debris inside the cabin at life threatening velocity.

According to Honda, the specific model that Solis used had been part of a 2011 safety recall, but the “recall repair was never completed,” and the automaker said it was not allowed yet to examine the remains of the crashed car to assess if indeed the airbag inflator ruptured. Takata commented on the accident they are collaborating with Honda “to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the vehicle’s status at the time of the incident” – the Japanese company is currently the subject of investigations run by the NHTSA and the US Department of Justice.

Via Reuters