Takata air bag inflator ruptures in Florida crash that killed driver

Another driver has died in a crash that involved an exploding Takata air bag inflator.

The crash happened July 19 in Holiday, Fla., near Tampa, according to Honda. Local authorities have yet to release the cause of death and are investigating the crash, the automaker said.

The unidentified driver was in a 2002 Honda Accord when the crash happened and the driver's air bag inflator ruptured.

If the air bag caused the death, it would be the 19th death worldwide and 13th in the U.S. blamed on the inflators.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and blow apart a metal canister, spewing shrapnel. The defective inflators have touched off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history, involving 42 million vehicles and 69 million inflators. More than 100 million autos have been recalled worldwide.

Honda said in a statement that it sent 21 mailed notices to the owners of the Accord involved in the Florida crash starting in 2011, including 10 to the current registered owner. But the recall repair had not been made, company records show, even though Honda says it has parts available.

Honda said it also tried “numerous times” to reach the owners of the Accord by email and telephone.

Honda and investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inspected the Accord on Thursday and determined that the driver's inflator ruptured, according to Honda.

The company offered sympathy to the driver’s family, and it urged owners of recalled vehicles to get them repaired as soon as possible. Older vehicles, especially those from the 2001 to 2003 model years, pose a greater danger of injuring or killing people. The company says it has enough replacement inflators available to repair all cars and will do so at no cost to owners.

The Takata devices use the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate to inflate air bags in a crash. But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to high heat and humidity. That can make it burn too fast and blow apart the canister that holds it.

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