A Florida woman who died in a July 19 car crash may have been killed by a Takata airbag that exploded with deadly force.
The crash occurred in Holiday, Florida, near St. Petersburg when a 34-year-old woman driving a 2002 Honda Accord collided head-on with a 1999 Pontiac Firebird. The Firebird was driven by a teen who turned into the Accord’s path, according to police reports.
WFLA Channel 8 Tampa reports the woman driving the Honda was identified as Nichol Barker, 34, of Holiday. Ms. Barker was rushed to a local hospital where she died.
The Associated Press reported that three other people were in the car with Ms. Barker, including a 4-year-old girl who suffered minor injuries. The AP reported that Ms. Barker’s Facebook page lists her as the mother of three young children.
Various reports said authorities had not identified the cause of death, but according to the AP, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins said that Ms. Barker was killed by blunt force trauma.
If her death is attributed to the Takata airbag, Ms. Barker would be the 19th fatality worldwide linked to defective Takata airbags. A 58-year-old Australia man also died in July from injuries authorities suspect were caused by shrapnel from an exploding Takata airbag in his 2007 Honda CR-V. His death is tentatively being counted as the 18th Takata-related death in the world.
Ms. Barker’s would be the 13th U.S. death and the 18th to occur in a Honda vehicle, although the massive Takata recall encompasses millions of vehicles made by more than a dozen auto manufacturers.
Approximately 70 million airbag inflators in about 45 million vehicles in the U.S. are under recall. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicates that less than one-third of the vehicles and airbag units affected by Takata recalls have been repaired.
The latest death in Florida calls attention to the trouble automakers encounter contacting vehicle owners as well as the urgency of having recall repairs performed. Honda said that it mailed 21 recall notices to the owners of the 2002 Honda Accord, including 10 to the current registered owner.
Honda also said it tried to reach the owners of the vehicle by email and telephone “numerous times.”