11th Takata airbag death in US

Jamaica Gleaner - - AUTOMOTIVES -

DETROIT (AP): 50-YEAR-OLD woman who died af­ter a car wreck last month in Cal­i­for­nia is the 11th United States vic­tim of Takata Corp’s de­fec­tive airbag in­fla­tors.

The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic

ASafety Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NHTSA) con­firmed the woman’s death on Thurs­day but didn’t re­lease her name. Up to five peo­ple also may have been killed by the airbags in Malaysia, bring­ing the num­ber of deaths glob­ally to as many as 16.

The agency said the woman, iden­ti­fied in River­side County, Cal­i­for­nia, coroner’s records as Delia Robles, 50, of Corona, was driv­ing a 2001 Honda Civic. River­side po­lice said in a state­ment that a man mak­ing a left turn in a Chevro­let pickup truck was hit head-on by the Civic. The woman was rushed to a nearby hospi­tal, where she died from her in­juries, the state­ment said.

“The left turn, that’s what caused the col­li­sion,” po­lice of­fi­cer Ryan Rails­back told the River­side Press-En­ter­prise, adding that po­lice con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate with state and fed­eral help. “They’re still work­ing on whether the airbag sys­tem played any role in the death.”

Honda said in a state­ment that its “thoughts and deep­est sym­pa­thies are with the fam­ily of the driver dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time.”

Roble’s son, José Con­tr­eras, told KCAL-TV that his mother The Takata build­ing in Auburn Hills, Michi­gan, USA.

was driv­ing to get a flu shot when she crashed. He said she was do­ing 25mph at the time. “My mom was a very safe

It’s not like she was sick and she had a ter­mi­nal ill­ness and you knew this was com­ing. This hap­pened from one minute to an­other.

driver. Seat belt was on, al­ways,” he said.

He said he is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing le­gal ac­tion. “It’s not like she was sick and she had a ter­mi­nal ill­ness and you knew this was com­ing. This hap­pened from one minute to an­other,” Con­tr­eras said.

Takata airbags can in­flate with too much force, which causes a metal can­is­ter to rup­ture and spew shrap­nel into the ve­hi­cle. Tokyo-based Takata, un­like other man­u­fac­tur­ers, uses the chem­i­cal am­mo­nium ni­trate to cre­ate a small ex­plo­sion that in­flates airbags in a crash.

How­ever, the chem­i­cal can de­te­ri­o­rate when ex­posed to pro­longed high heat and hu­mid­ity and can burn faster than de­signed. That can blow apart a metal can­is­ter de­signed to con­tain the ex­plo­sion.

LARGEST AUTO RE­CALL

The prob­lem touched off what is now the largest auto re­call in US his­tory. More than 69 mil­lion in­fla­tors have been re­called in the US and more than 100 mil­lion world­wide. Takata faces bil­lions in costs.

Honda said the Civic in­volved in the Cal­i­for­nia crash had been in­cluded in mul­ti­ple re­calls since 2008. The com­pany said it mailed more than 20 re­call no­tices to the car’s reg­is­tered own­ers, but its records in­di­cate that the ve­hi­cle was never re­paired.

Com­pany spokesman Chris Martin said “mul­ti­ple” no­tices were sent to the vic­tim’s ad­dress, but he did not know if she re­ceived them. She bought the car at the end of 2015, he said.

In June, the NHTSA urged own­ers of 313,000 older Hon­das and Acuras to stop driv­ing them and get them re­paired af­ter new tests found that their Takata in­fla­tors were ex­tremely dan­ger­ous. The agency said it had data show­ing that chances are as high as 50 per cent that the in­fla­tors can ex­plode in a crash. Martin said about 300,000 have not been re­paired and that the own­ers have been dif­fi­cult to reach. Just over one mil­lion Hon­das orig­i­nally had the risky type of in­fla­tors.

The NHTSA’s ur­gent ad­vi­sory cov­ers ve­hi­cles that are up to 16 years old, in­clud­ing 2001 and 2002 Honda Civics and Ac­cords, the 2002 and 2003 Acura TL, the 2002 Honda Odyssey and CR-V, and the 2003 Acura CL and Honda Pi­lot. They were re­called from 2008 to 2011, and about 70 per cent of them al­ready have been re­paired, the agency said.

AP

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