Honda Motor Co’s U.S. unit said on Friday it has linked the September 2014 death of a woman in Los Angeles, California, to the rupture of a Takata airbag inflator, bringing to eight the number of fatalities related to defective Takata airbags.
U.S. highway safety regulators also confirmed that the death of Jewel Brangman in a 2001 Honda Civic is the seventh U.S. death, and the eighth fatality worldwide related to Takata airbag inflators that can explode, sending shards of metal through the passenger compartments of cars.
U.S. regulators have ordered the recall of vehicles equipped with about 34 million Takata airbag inflators. The exact number of vehicles affected by the recall is unclear, although data from manufacturers indicates the number is more than 16 million vehicles in the U.S.
Honda, in a statement, said the 2001 car had been issued a salvage title in October 2011, and then purchased by a rental car agency in San Diego, California. The car was rented to Ms. Brangman in August 2014. Honda did not elaborate on the statement, or identify the rental car company.
Honda said its records showed that the driver’s side airbag inflator in the car was subject to recalls since July 2009, and that four recall notices had been sent to registered owners of the vehicle starting in August 2009.
The fatal crash occurred before notifications of the most recent recall actions for the vehicle’s airbags were sent out in September 2014.
Honda said it is urging owners of recalled vehicles to get airbag inflators repaired “as soon as possible.”
U.S. vehicle safety regulators said in a statement the case illustrates “why we are seeking authority to prohibit sale or rental of any vehicle with an open safety recall.”