U.S. says eighth U.S. death linked to Takata airbag rupture

Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:30am EST
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday that an eighth U.S. death is linked to a faulty Takata airbag inflator, marking the first reported death since April and the ninth worldwide.

The auto safety agency also said it named a former U.S. Justice Department official to oversee the massive recalls of airbags and the Japanese parts firm's compliance with a settlement.

NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge told reporters on a conference call that the death took place in July in a recalled used 2001 Honda Accord coupe near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The unidentified teen-aged driver was hospitalized after a Takata airbag ruptured. The teen died several days later.

Sources close to the matter said the death involved a 13-year-old boy who was in an early morning crash after he apparently took the keys without permission from a parent and got behind the wheel.

Pennsylvania State Police, in a brief summation issued publicly last summer, showed that a July 22 incident involved a 13-year-old boy driver who was the lone person in a 2001 Honda Accord that went off a road into a wooded area at 4:46 am in Mercer County in western Pennsylvania.

The Accord went down a four-foot embankment, traveled 315 feet, which is about the length of a football field, and then struck a fallen tree. There was no mention of the airbag in the public statement, which said the incident involved an intoxicated driver.

Pennsylvania officials declined on Wednesday to release the official accident report.

Trowbridge said Honda, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Subaru unit, and Mazda Motor Corp will add an estimated "few hundred thousand vehicles" to the massive recall campaigns based on additional inflator testing and that others may as well.   Continued...

A recalled Takata airbag inflator is shown after it was removed at the AutoNation Honda dealership service department in Miami, Florida June 25, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper