The last person killed by an exploding Takata airbag inflator is believed to be a driver who crashed while operating a Honda Accord in South Carolina in 2002. Paul Sancya / AP Hide caption
Paul Sancya / AP
Paul Sancya / AP
DETROIT – A driver in South Carolina is the last person to be killed by an exploding Takata airbag inflator.
Honda said Wednesday that a faulty driver airbag was blown up in a 2002 Honda Accord accident in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The company would not provide details of the January 9 crash near Charlotte, North Carolina, nor would it identify the person who was killed.
Honda officials and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the car and airbag parts on Wednesday and discovered that the inflator had burst, the company said. The death is the 19th in the US since 2009 and the 28th worldwide caused by the defective inflators.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that could inflate airbags in a crash. However, the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to humidity. The explosion can blow apart a metal canister and throw splinters into the passenger compartment.
The problem caused the largest series of auto recalls in US history, with at least 63 million inflators recalled. The US government says more than 11.1 million had not been repaired as of last year. Around 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide.
Most of the deaths occurred in the United States, but also in Australia and Malaysia.
Honda said it has shared all the information it has with NHTSA and will continue to work together on the latest investigation.
The company said the agreement was recalled in the April 2011 crash in South Carolina. As of June 2011, the company made more than 100 attempts to reach owners of the car, including mailed messages, phone calls, emails, and even personal visits, the statement said.
“Our records show that the recall repair was never completed,” the statement said.
The company said the driver killed is not the registered owner of the Accord and Honda is unsure if the driver knew about the unrepaired recall.
The car has changed hands several times, most recently in October 2020, said Honda spokesman Chris Martin. The company sent a recall notification to the current owner on Nov. 17, 2020, Martin said.
Honda says it has adequate supplies of replacement inflators and is urging people to do recall repairs, especially older models.
Drivers can verify that their vehicles have been recalled by entering their 17-digit vehicle identification number at https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.
The recalls bankrupted Japan’s Takata and brought criminal charges against the company. Eventually it was bought from a Chinese auto parts supplier.