Man dies when air bag inflator ruptures amid auto fix

Takata inflators can explode with too much force when exposed to prolonged airborne moisture and hot-and-cold
Takata air bag inflator ruptures during car repair, killing man
Author

12 July, 2017

Instead, it was someone trying to make repairs with a hammer.

Ramon V. Kuffo, 81, of Hialeah, Florida, was working inside a 2001 Honda Accord using a hammer when the air bag inflator ruptured, on June 18, 2016. Ramon V. Kuffo, 88, who did not own the vehicle but had taken apart the center console with the ignition switch on, died of head trauma a day after a neighbor found him bleeding from the face in the passenger seat of the auto parked in his yard near Miami, Fla., reports the Detroit News.

Honda said the man died the next day from injuries.

"It is hard to determine whether the cause of death in this incident was the inflator rupture, or an interaction of the hammer with the deploying airbag", Honda wrote Monday.

While the centre console was being dismantled, the tool triggered the activation of the airbag inflator, which then ruptured upon deployment.

The fatality was the 12th in the United States linked to Takata's air bag inflaters, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and underscored the danger still posed by the faulty devices despite a widespread recall of vehicles using them.

According to a Honda spokesperson, a deceleration sensor that activates the airbags is mounted on the wall between the engine and the passenger compartment. It will take the industry years to produce that many replacements.

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The NHTSA said 2001-2003 model Honda and Acura vehicles have as high as a 50 per cent chance of a unsafe air bag inflator rupture in a crash.

Recently bankrupt auto parts maker Takata is once against adding to its roster of potentially unsafe airbags, this time recalling 2.7 million airbag inflators that could explode violently despite containing a chemical meant to lessen the risk of the shrapnel-shooting ruptures. Laboratory tests show they have as high as a 50 percent chance of blowing apart in a crash. The owner had received 12 recall notices.

About 68 million Takata inflators are already scheduled to be recalled through 2019.

At least 17 deaths worldwide have been associated with the flaw, which can send metal fragments flying through vehicles as air bags inflate. More than 180 people have been hurt in the USA alone. Ford, which has the most vehicles involved in the latest recall, is reviewing the information and will file a list of models within the five days required by law.

The company's bankruptcy filings cleared the way for a $1.6-billion takeover of most of Takata's assets by rival Key Safety Systems, which is based in Detroit and owned by a Chinese company.

Green, who teaches at Harvard, has served as a mediator in many major cases, including the US Microsoft antitrust case, and now serves as a Justice Department monitor overseeing the implementation of billions of dollars in consumer relief linked to settlements with banks stemming from the 2007-2009 financial crisis.


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