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U.S. confirms death linked to faulty Takata airbag in 2002 Honda Accord

WASHINGTON — U.S. auto safety regulators again issued an urgent warning Friday for the public to check for open recalls after confirming another death linked to a defective Takata airbag inflator.

NHTSA said one person died in a crash in a 2002 Honda Accord after the driver’s side airbag inflator ruptured.

In a statement Friday, American Honda Motor Co. also confirmed the death, which occurred Feb. 2 in Bowling Green, Ky.

“The driver of the vehicle sustained injuries from the ruptured inflator and subsequently died. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver,” the automaker said.

Honda said the Accord had been under recall since April 2011 for replacement of the original Takata driver’s side airbag inflator.

“Honda made more than 300 attempts to reach the owner of this vehicle, who purchased the car in 2008. This included more than 40 mailed notices to the registered address, over 230 phone calls and over 40 email notifications,” the automaker said. “Our records indicate that the recall repair was never completed.”

The company is urging owners of Honda and Acura vehicles with open recalls to get their vehicles repaired as soon as possible, noting that older models — especially certain 2001-03 model year vehicles — have a “heightened risk of an airbag rupture and pose the greatest safety risk.”

Honda said it has confirmed 17 deaths and more than 200 injuries in the U.S. related to rupturing Takata driver’s side airbag inflators.

Last month, NHTSA confirmed a death tied to a Takata airbag inflator in a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup.

The country’s top auto safety regulator said it has confirmed 23 people in the U.S. have been killed by defective Takata airbag inflators. Four of those deaths were confirmed this year.

“Whatever you’re doing, stop now and check to see if your vehicle has a Takata airbag recall. If it does, make an appointment to get your free repair as soon as possible,” NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement. “If this airbag ruptures in a crash, it could kill you or someone you love, or leave them with critical, life-altering injuries. Every day that passes when you don’t get a recalled airbag replaced puts you and your family at greater risk of injury or death.”

The Takata airbag recall has been the largest in global automotive history, affecting more than 100 million vehicles worldwide.

Some Takata airbags were found to explode during an accident, sending shrapnel into the passenger compartment.

The recalls have affected nearly every major automaker, particularly Honda. Major recalls for airbags also were issued by Ford, General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp.

Japan-based Takata filed for bankruptcy in June 2017. Its assets are now part of Chinese-owned supplier Joyson Safety Systems.

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