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NHTSA And Honda Confirm Eighth Death Due To Faulty Takata Air Bags

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Honda Motor and safety regulators confirm Takata's defective airbag inflators found in millions of vehicles around the world has caused the death of a 26-year-old woman in Los Angeles, bringing the global death toll to eight, with seven cases occurring in the United States.

On Sept. 7, 2014 in Los Angeles County, Jewel Brangman was driving a 2001 Honda Civic she rented from a rental company in San Diego called Sunshine Rental. The car is one of the several Honda vehicles affected by the massive worldwide recall of millions of vehicles due to the exploding airbag inflators that can send sharp pieces of metal flying toward the driver's neck and head.

Alexander Brangman, Jewel's father, filed a lawsuit against Sunshine Rental, Honda and Takata. In his lawsuit, Brangman says his daughter sustained a cut in the neck and ultimately died due to severe brain injury.

"The fact that this was a rental vehicle that had not been remedied is more evidence for why we are seeking authority to prohibit sale or rental of any vehicle with an open safety recall," Mark Rosekind, an NHTSA administrator, says.

The rental car Brangman was driving was issued a salvage title, which signifies that it is considered damaged or a total loss by the insurance firm that paid a claim on it.

Honda says the owners of the car were sent a total of four notifications as part of an earlier recall made in July 2009. In 2013, the car maker also made another effort to notify the owners that the car was eligible for a free repair of the driver's side airbag inflator but received no response. Honda again issued other notifications in September, although they were sent after the crash that led to Brangman's death.

Nearly 34 million vehicles manufactured by 10 companies, from Toyota to General Motors and Daimler AG, are affected by the worldwide recall caused by Takata's faulty airbag inflators. The defect is due to the use of ammonium nitrate, an unstable chemical that causes a small explosion to inflate the airbags during a crash. When exposed to moisture, the chemical burns too fast and blasts apart the metal canister that is supposed to contain the explosion.

Recalls were initially made only for areas characterized by high humidity but has since been expanded to all regions in the U.S. 

Photo: Miguel Angel Rodriguez | Flickr

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