On Thursday, Honda Motor Co. said that one of its vehicles equipped with airbags made by Takata Corp. was involved in a fatal crash in Texas. At the time of the announcement, the automaker did not say if the airbag inflator ruptured during the accident. On Friday, Honda confirmed that it did.
The crash happened on January 18 in Spring, Texas. 35-year-old Carlos Solis IV was behind the wheel of a 2002 Honda Accord sedan. Also in the car was an 11-year-old cousin. According to reports, the low-speed crash killed the driver but left the younger passenger unharmed. The cause of death has not been determined, but the county medical examiner’s preliminary report indicated that the victim suffered “blunt force injuries to the neck.”
The Solis family has filed a case against Honda, Takata and All Stars Auto Sales, the dealership from which the victim purchased the 2002 Accord. According to the lawsuit, Solis bought the car from the aforementioned used-car dealership in April 2014. The Accord collided with a 2003 Infiniti G35 sedan, and the lawsuit described the crash as “relatively minor.” However, the outcome was anything but—the lawsuit cited a police report which stated that a piece of metal from the airbag hit the driver in the neck.
Honda’s confirmation of the airbag’s rupture suggests that the defective Takata airbag inflators have claimed another life. Before the Texas accident, Takata airbags have been linked to five fatalities. The airbags deploy with excessive force and their inflators explode, spraying metal fragments that can fatally injure vehicle passengers.
Last week, Takata said it was working with Honda to find out the truth about the accident. The parts maker stressed that public safety remains its main priority. Takata has yet to determine the cause of the deadly inflator defect.
Honda said that the 2002 Accord involved in the Texas crash was among the vehicles called back in 2011 for a faulty driver’s side front airbag inflator, but has not yet been serviced by the time Solis bought it. A company spokesman said that Honda sent many recall notices via mail to the Accord’s original owner and admitted that it has not yet mailed notices to the current owner.
Solis purchased the Accord on April 25, 2014, long after the original recall. However, the car was again recalled as part of a regional campaign in June. Texas was among the high-humidity regions included in the regional callback.