The wounds found on Hien Thi Tran’s body after she was injured in a minor car accident in Orlando in 2014 seemed to point clearly to a stabbing. After the accident, Tran was transported to a nearby hospital and police produced a “person of interest” as they continued with their investigation. They soon shockingly discovered that the wounds were not caused by a stabbing, but by the airbag, the car’s intended safety device. Tran died three days later in the hospital with fragments of metal and plastic.
A year earlier in California, Hai Ming Xu, was believed to have been shot to death, because of the extreme facial wounds sustained in a minor traffic accident when his 2002 Acura TL hit the wall of a building in a parking lot. The airbags that allegedly killed both drivers were manufactured by Takata and are believed to have exploded with such force that they sent shrapnel flying into the car’s drivers. Two other fatalities tied to the airbags, also in Honda cars, were found in court records and police reports in 2009.
The Center for Auto Safety lists nine other people that sustained serious injuries. Two of the victims suffered from permanent damage to their sight due to flying shrapnel. One driver, Kristy Williams, had a piece of shrapnel tear her carotid artery. She was able to slow the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound, but has since suffered several strokes and a traumatic brain injury.
Honda extended sympathies to the victims and their families and Takata executives apologized for the harmful defects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 8 million of the airbags manufactured by 10 different automakers, and may expand the recall nationwide.
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