Honda says new Takata air bag death reported in Texas

Wed Apr 6, 2016 5:55pm EDT
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By David Shepardson and Bernie Woodall

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - A 17-year-old driver of a recalled 2002 Honda Civic was killed last month after a Takata Corp (7312.T: Quote) air bag ruptured during a rear-end crash, Honda Motor Co (7267.T: Quote) and U.S. regulators said on Wednesday, the 10th U.S. death linked to a defect that has prompted recalls of tens of millions of vehicles worldwide.

The latest death took place on March 31 in Fort Bend County, Texas. Honda said the owner had been mailed multiple recall notices about the five-year-old recall effort, but repairs were never made.

The victim, a high school senior from Richmond, Texas, ran into the back of a Honda CR-V that was waiting for traffic to clear to make a left turn, said Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Beckwith. The driver was not excessively speeding and was wearing her seat belt, he said, saying the crash resulted in moderate damage to her car.

"Everybody should have walked away from this," Beckwith said in an interview. He said shrapnel punctured the air bag and sliced the young woman's neck and carotid artery. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Honda spokesman Jeffrey Smith said the automaker has more than doubled the size of its customer relations team working on this issue.

"This is a very motivated, dedicated and engaged group, working seven days a week to help customers get their vehicles repaired," Smith said.

He said Honda has sent more than 9.9 million mailers, 11.9 million postcards, 4.5 million emails, 12.8 million direct and automated phone calls and used targeted advertising, social media and other efforts.

Overall, 10 people have died in the United States in accidents linked to exploding Takata air bags. Nine of those U.S. deaths have occurred in Honda vehicles, Honda said. Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) has reported a death from a Takata air bag rupture in one of its vehicles in the United States.   Continued...

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