Motorists injured by exploding airbags made by Japanese supplier Takata often look like they have been stabbed or shot, CNN reported, citing police who responded to emergencies involving the potentially deadly airbags.
In September 2013, Police who first arrived at the scene of a minor car accident in Alhambra, Calif., thought that the driver, Hai Ming Xu, had sustained a gunshot to the face.
But Mr. Hai wasn’t the victim of foul play. He was simply maneuvering his 2002 Acura TL in the parking lot of a restaurant where he worked when he accidentally struck the wall of an adjoining building. The collision was minor, but the results were deadly. The airbag exploded with such force that it blasted parts of the metal airbag container at Mr. Hai’s face, fatally wounding him.
In Orlando, Fla., driver Hien Thi Tran also received fatal wounds to her head and neck when the Takata airbag in her vehicle exploded, blasting shards of metal and plastic into the cabin. Ms. Tran survived for three days after the accident before succumbing to her injuries at a local hospital.
Police investigating Ms. Tran’s death were initially so certain that she had been had been attacked with a knife that, according to a lawsuit filed by her family, their investigation honed in on a “person of interest.”
According to CNN, it wasn’t until the results of her autopsy were released in November that investigators learned the cause of her death were the metal and plastic airbag fragments embedded in her neck.
Police and court records also show that Ashley Parkhma died in a similar way in Midwest City, Okla., in 2009, as did Gurjit Rathore in Richmond, Va., on Christmas Eve 2009. Both victims were fatally injured by Takata airbags deploying with explosive force. Nine others in the U.S. survived serious injury from the exploding airbags, according to the Center for Auto Safety, including two people who suffered loss of vision from metal shrapnel hitting them in the eye.