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Number of Alleged Deaths Linked to Takata Airbags Inching Up

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There may be a sixth death linked to Takata airbag defects.

On November 19, 2014, senators Edward Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (Democrat, Connecticut) held a news conference during which they announced that an Arizona woman, Charlene Weaver, was in an accident in 2003. She was driving a Subaru Impreza when she had an accident. The airbag exploded, and she suffered serious injuries that the authorities believe led to her death.

Five other fatalities have been linked to faulty airbag deployments, occurring in Virginia, Florida, California, Oklahoma, and Malaysia.

Potential Sixth Death Casts Doubt on “Humidity” Theory

At the time of the announcement, Takata officials stated they were not aware of the accident. Officials from several carmakers, as well, including representatives from Subaru, denied having any knowledge of the 2003 crash.

Weaver’s sister told reporters prior to the U.S. Senate hearing on Takata airbags, which took place November 20, 2014, that her sister died from injuries she sustained in the accident, including brain hemorrhaging.

Her story became especially significant after Takata implemented a partial recall that covered only certain humid locations in the United States. The company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that internal tests had indicated the defective airbags were more likely to explode in humid locations. They agreed to a recall in areas like Hawaii, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Dryer climates, however, like Arizona, were not included.

When Weaver’s story surfaced, Congressmen saw it as potential evidence that the “humidity theory” wasn’t complete, and that a partial recall was leaving thousands of drivers at risk of serious injury and death.

About the same time, the NHTSA ordered Takata to implement an industry-wide recall of all driver’s side airbags nationwide.

Honda the Most Affected by Airbag Recalls

So far, Takata has pushed back against the NHTSA order, claiming they lack enough replacement parts to meet such an expansive recall, and that supplying other areas of the nation may put drivers in humid climates particularly at risk as they wait for repairs.

Though a number of car makers are affected by the recall, Honda has been hit the hardest, as more than any other auto manufacturer, it has used Takata airbags in its vehicles. It is now under investigation to discover if it was forthcoming in reporting all potential accidents, injuries, and deaths related to the airbags. Honda has stated that it is cooperating fully and supplying all information requested.

Other auto makers affected by the recalls include Chrysler, Toyota, Acura, BMW, Dodge, Ford, General Motors, Infinity, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Pontiac, and Subaru. Consumers can check either the manufacturer’s website or NHTSA for more information.

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  1. Mark Whiteside says:
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    What evidence is there that her death was caused by an airbag?