Louisiana woman may be 7th death caused by Takata air bags

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 11:48 AM

DETROIT (AP) — A Louisiana woman who may be the seventh person killed by a defective Takata air bag received a recall notice two days after the crash that caused her death, according to a lawsuit filed by her family.

Kylan Langlinais, 22, of Lafayette, Louisiana, died at a hospital on April 9, four days after the 2005 Honda Accord she was driving crashed into a utility pole in the city, according to a lawsuit filed by her family Monday in federal court.

The crash occurred about 4 a.m. on April 5, and the driver's air bag exploded with too much force, sending out shrapnel that severed Langlinais' right carotid artery, the lawsuit stated.

Kenneth St. Pe', a lawyer representing the family, said Wednesday that he believes Langlinais would have walked away from the crash if not for the injury from the exploding air bag. Doctors did exploratory surgery and found no other injuries, he said.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is collecting information on the crash and is in contact with the lawyers and Honda, a spokesman said. No autopsy was performed and no official determination has been made on what caused Langlinais' injuries.

In May, Takata bowed to government pressure and declared many of its products defective, agreeing to double the number of air bag inflators being recalled to 33.8 million, making it the largest auto recall in U.S. history.

The recall covers driver and passenger air bags in cars and trucks made by 11 automakers. Takata, the automakers and NHTSA are still trying to determine what exactly causes the inflators to explode with so much force. Takata uses ammonium nitrate to make the small explosion that inflates the air bags, but in some cases the chemical burns too quickly and blows apart a metal canister designed to contain the blast. Before Langlinais' death, six people had been killed and at least 105 injured in crashes involving the inflators.

Langlinais' mother, Crystal, received the recall notice from Honda on April 7, two days after the crash, when there was still no explanation for the severity of Kylan's injuries, St. Pe' said.

"No one is thinking that your air bag exploded and sent shrapnel into you. It wasn't until mama got the recall notice and started thinking about it," he said.

The Accord's passenger side was severely damaged, but the driver's side was intact, St. Pe' said. He didn't know where Langlinais, who worked as a pet groomer, was going at the time of the crash but said there's nothing to indicate alcohol was involved in the crash.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Honda and Takata covered up the air bag problem for more than a decade.

Honda said in a statement that the crash may have caused Langlinais' driver's air bag inflator to rupture and said it is in contact with lawyers to get more information. A message was left Wednesday for a Takata spokesman.