A 13-year-old boy from Pennsylvania who was killed in a July crash near Pittsburgh, Penn., is the eighth U.S. fatality linked to defective airbags made by Japanese supplier Takata, which have been recalled in millions of vehicles worldwide for their potential to explode with deadly force.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the boy was killed in an early morning crash that occurred in a 2001 Honda Accord coupe, one of the vehicles that had been recalled for Takata airbags that contain a faulty inflator.
A Pennsylvania State Police report of the crash indicates the minor was driving the vehicle after taking the keys without his parent’s permission. The Honda Accord veered off the highway and careened down an embankment, then traveled about 120 yards before crashing into a tree.
The unidentified boy was hospitalized for his injuries but died several days later.
Insurance Journal reported that Honda Motor Co. had made multiple attempts to notify the vehicle’s previous owner of the faulty airbag and recall from 2010 to 2012, but the repair had never been made. The automaker mailed the new owner another recall notice the day before the fatal crash.
Takata’s airbag recall is one of the largest and most complex recalls in history, affecting 23 million airbag inflators in 19 million U.S. vehicles made by 12 auto manufacturers.
The defective airbags have been linked to nine deaths worldwide, including the death of a pregnant woman in Malaysia, and more than a hundred injuries. Police reports indicate that some victims of Takata’s exploding airbags resembled homicide victims for the nature and severity of their injuries.
Despite the urgency of replacing the defective airbags, less than a quarter of all the affected vehicles have been repaired in the U.S. due to the size and complexity of the problem. That means 15 million vehicles with faulty Takata airbags remain unrepaired, and the recall continues to expand.
NHTSA spokesman Gordon Trowbridge estimated in a press call that that Honda, Subaru, and Mazda will add a “few hundred thousand vehicles” to the recall campaigns and that others may follow based on results of further testing.
The new recalls involve passenger side inflators for 2005-2008 Mazda 6 cars, 2003-2004 Honda CR-V, and 2005-2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback. Honda, the automaker most affected by Takata’s airbag problems, said it would recall an additional 127,000 vehicles.
All of Takata airbag-linked deaths, including the one in Malaysia, have occurred in Honda vehicles.