The incident occurred in Hialeah, Florida on June 18, 2016 and involved a 2001 Honda Accord. According to Honda, the circumstances surrounding the event were a little unusual:
"The rupture occurred while an individual, who was not the vehicle owner, was attempting to perform unknown repairs inside the vehicle using a hammer while the ignition switch was in the 'on' position. This triggered activation of the airbag inflator, which ruptured during deployment of the airbag. The individual died the next day from injuries sustained when the airbag deployed."
Honda notes that the company is unsure whether the fatality resulted from the rupture of the airbag inflator or from the "interaction of the hammer with the deploying airbag". However, the automaker acknowledges that the car's "Alpha" inflator had been the subject of several recalls, including a dire warning to owners not to drive certain Honda and Acura models until they'd been fixed.
The Alpha inflators were Takata's first to use ammonium nitrate without a dessicant, and that's proven a deadly error. As we noted a year ago, "While the chance of explosion for most Takata airbags is less than 1 percent, it says, the rate for the bags in these specific vehicles is now more than 50 percent."
The recall of the Alpha inflators was also the subject of a high-profile publicity campaign in March of this year. Honda models containing those inflators include:
If you own one of those vehicles, stop what you're doing and verify that it's included in the Takata recall. Simply visit the Honda or Acura recall website and run a quick search using your vehicle identification number, or VIN. If it's affected by the recall and hasn't been fixed, contact your local Honda dealer immediately and make arrangements for a free service appointment. Park it until it's been repaired.
Including this fatality, a total of 18 people have been killed by Takata inflators, and more than 100 have been injured.
(c) 2017, High Gear Media.