In 2018, another faulty Takata airbag ruptured and killed the driver because it flung shrapnel into her head during an accident. According to the Florida State Highway Patrol, it was an accident she would have survived if not for the airbag. The woman, Nichol Barker, 34, was at least the 21st person who has been killed by a defective Takata airbag since 2009.
The 2018 news report stated Barker was hit by metal pieces that tore through the airbag. It caused a 6×3 inch wound to her left temple that eventually led to brain swelling and death.
Unfortunately, this was not the only recent Takata airbag fatality. In 2017, it was reported that another person died from a deploying Takata airbag. Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the person died when a 2004 Honda Civic crashed in Louisiana. The airbag blew apart upon impact and killed the driver from exploding shrapnel in July. These fatalities from a defective airbag was only the newest in a problem that has been going on for years.
Honda learned about the death only in 2017, and conducted an inspection of the flawed vehicle with US government officials. The car manufacturer did not release the age or name of the deceased. Honda stated that the airbag apparently was removed from another vehicle, a Civic made in 2002. The owners of the 2004 Civic had been sent several recall letters to replace the original airbag inflator beginning in 2014, but the repair was never made.
The latest airbag death came about one month after a report on Takata airbag recalls showed that automakers had only replaced 43% of the faulty parts even though recalls had been under way for many years. The slow rate of completion came even though the NHTSA has been coordinating the recalls and phased them in at least two years ago. Before that time, automakers were getting parts and distributing them for repairs on their own. Usually, automakers repair 75% of affected vehicles within 1.5 years after the recall is first announced.
The problems with defective Takata airbags goes back to 2008. That was when Honda first announced a recall of 4,000 vehicles that used the defective airbag parts. But Honda increased the size of the recall to 2 million vehicles in 2011. By 2017, more than 70 million airbags in 42 million vehicles in many makes and models had been recalled. The airbags were manufactured by Takata and were largely installed in vehicles from 2002-2015. Some of the airbags could deploy with too much explosive force, leading to serious injuries and even death.
Why Takata Airbag Injuries and Deaths Are Occurring
The NHTSA determined the cause of the airbag problem was the use of ammonium nitrate-based propellant that did not have a chemical drying agent. Environmental moisture, high temperatures and age can cause the airbag to inflate too explosively and fire shrapnel at the occupants of the car. It was found that the Takata system in particular was especially susceptible to problems with temperature fluctuations and moisture.
Other Airbag Deaths
While the Takata airbag problems are serious, there are other deaths and serious injuries that have occurred due to defective airbags over the years. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, in a 17 year period, these events occurred:
- 172 children died from passenger side airbag deployment
- 8 children died from injuries from driver’s side airbags
- 91 adult drivers died from airbag deployment
- 13 adult passengers died from airbag deployment
Other Types of Serious Injuries with Defective Airbags
In addition to the 20 deaths that have occurred, there have been extensive injuries related to defective Takata airbags. Many of the injuries can be horrific and bear resemblance to a knifing or shooting. As a matter of fact, the initial airbag deaths were first viewed as possible murders because it appeared the victims had been stabbed or shot. Some of the other common injuries from defective Takata airbags are:
- Blindness and other serious eye injuries
- Skull and bone fractures
- Trauma to major organs
- Spinal injuries including paralysis
- Hearing loss
List of Deaths From Faulty Takata Airbags
Below are the names and other information of all the people killed by defective airbags since the recall was first announced. All of the deaths have happened since May 2009.
- May 27, 2009: Ashley Parham, 18, of Midwest City, Oklahoma, 2001 Honda Accord
- 24, 2009: Gurjit Rathore, 33, of Richmond, Virginia, 2001 Honda Accord
- 13, 2013: Hai Ming Xu, of Alhambra, California, 2002 Acura TL
- July 27, 2014: Law Suk Leh of Sibu, Malaysia, 2003 Honda City
- 7, 2014: Jewel Brangman, 26, of California, 2001 Honda Civic
- 29, 2014: Hien Thi Tran, 51, of Orlando, Florida, 2001 Honda Accord
- 18, 2015: Carlos Solis, 35, of Spring, Texas, 2002 Honda Accord
- April 15, 2015: Kylan Langlinais, 23, of Lafayette, Louisiana, 2005 Honda Accord
- July 22, 2015: Unidentified 13-year-old boy, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, 2001 Honda Accord
- 22, 2015: Joel Knight, 52, of Kershaw, South Carolina, 2006 Ford Ranger
- March 31, 2016: Huma Hanif, 17, of Fort Bend County, Texas, 2002 Honda Civic
- April 16, 2016: Unidentified person, Sabah State, Malaysia, 2006 Honda City. Inflator ruptured, no death cause determined.
- May 1, 2016: Unidentified person, Malaysia, 2003 Honda City. Inflator ruptured, no death cause determined.
- June, 2016: Unidentified person in Malaysia. Inflator ruptured, no death cause determined.
- June 19, 2016: Ramon Kuffo, 81, Hialeah, Florida. Inflator ruptured while he was repairing interior of car.
- 24, 2016: Unidentified driver, Johor State, Malaysia, 2009 Honda City. Inflator ruptured, no death cause determined.
- 30, 2016: Delia Robles, 50, of Corona, California, 2001 Honda Civic.
- July 10, 2017: Unidentified person in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2004 Honda Civic.
- July 13, 2017: Unidentified 58-year-old man in suburban Sydney, 2007 Honda CR-V.
- July 19, 2017: Nichol Lynn Barker, 34, of Holiday, Florida, 2002 Honda Accord
If you have a loved one who lost his or her life to a defective airbag, it is important to speak with an experienced defective airbag personal injury attorney immediately. Whether that death was caused by the known Takata defect or another, you could be entitled to compensation from the vehicle manufacturer or airbag manufacturer.