A Takata airbag that deployed with lethal force killed a Florida woman in a July 19 collision that she should have survived, the Florida Highway Patrol said in a report released Jan. 17 and obtained by the Associated Press.
Nichol Barker, 34, of Holiday, Florida, died July 19 when her 2002 Honda Accord collided with a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am driven by a 19-year-old male who had made a left turn in front of Ms. Barker’s vehicle.
Ms. Barker was driving about 30 mph when her Honda Accord struck the Trans Am. Her 10-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter, and mother were also in the vehicle when the accident occurred. She was struck by metal fragments when the Takata airbag assembly exploded.
According to the AP, Ms. Barker suffered a 6-by-3-inch gaping wound to her left temple, a fractured skull, and bruising and bleeding on her brain. She was airlifted to a Tampa-area hospital but died from her injuries 40 minutes after the crash. She was at least the 21st person to be killed by a defective Takata airbag.
Ms. Barker’s mother and son received minor injuries in the crash and her daughter was uninjured.
Sgt. Chester T. Everett, the lead investigator, and Dr. Christopher Wilson, the medical examiner who performed Barker’s autopsy, concluded she would have survived the collision had the Takata airbag not exploded, according to the AP.
Ms. Barker’s case underscores the problem with urgent safety recalls affecting older vehicles. In many cases, vehicles change ownership and states, making it more difficult for automakers to contact the current vehicle owner.
The crash report shows that Ms. Barker bought the car from a private seller in 2016 but it is unknown whether she or the person she bought the vehicle from were aware of the Takata airbag recall. The 2002 Honda Accord was recalled in May 2015 but the Takata airbag had never been replaced.