Paul Sancia / AP
DETROIT – A driver in South Carolina is the last person to be killed by an explosion of a Takata air bag.
Honda said on Wednesday that the driver’s airbag was blown off in the crash of a 2002 Honda Accord in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The company has not provided details of the January 9 accident near Charlotte, North Carolina, nor will it identify the person who was killed.
The company said Honda officials and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the vehicle and airbag parts on Wednesday and concluded that the air inflator had been ruptured. The death is the nineteenth in the United States since 2009 and the twenty-third in the world due to defective inflation devices.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to induce a small explosion to inflate the air sacs in the event of an accident. But the chemical can become more volatile over time when exposed to moisture in the air. The explosion could detonate an explosive device and drop shrapnel into the passenger compartment.
The problem caused the largest series of car recalls in US history, with at least 63 million blowers recalled. The US government says that as of last year, more than 11.1 million had not been repaired. About 100 million blowers have been withdrawn from all over the world.
Most of the deaths have occurred in the United States, but they have also occurred in Australia and Malaysia.
Honda said it has shared all the information it has with the NHTSA and will continue to cooperate in the latest investigation.
The company said the agreement was recalled in the April 2011 South Carolina accident. As of June 2011, the company has made more than 100 attempts to reach vehicle owners including mail notifications, phone calls, emails and even personal visits, the statement said.
“Our records indicate that the reform of the summons was never completed,” the statement said.
The company said the driver killed was not the registered owner of the Accord, and Honda does not know if the driver knew of the recall that was not being fixed.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the car has changed ownership several times, most recently in October of 2020. Martin said the company had sent a recall notice to the current owner on November 17, 2020.
Honda says it has an adequate supply of replacement air blowers, and is urging people to do recall repairs, especially older models.
Drivers can check to see if their cars have been recalled by going to https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls And enter the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number.
The recoveries drove the Japanese Takata into bankruptcy and filed criminal charges against the company. Ultimately it was purchased by a China-owned auto parts supplier.