A slow speed accident left Patricia Mincey a quadriplegic.
Unlike U.S. deaths that have been tied to faulty Takata airbags the airbag inflator in Mincey's 2001 Honda Civic did not rupture. In this case it deployed with such force that it broke Mincey’s neck and left her on a ventilator.
Forensic investigator Bill Williams says the same defect that causes the airbag's metal inflator to explode can turn the airbag itself into a deadly weapon. They are called aggressive deployments. Lawsuits filed by the Mincey family and others blame violent deployments not ruptures for their injuries.
Experts say many cases go unreported due to a lack of accident reconstruction investigations. In Mincey’s case the aggressive deployment cost her her life. She died last year from her injuries. Takata settled with the family.
In Polk County an airbag punch damaged multiple vertebrae in Cheri Money's back and left her permanently injured. According to the police report, the airbag in her 1997 Cavalier shot out without warning.
In Money’s case there was no investigation. The one page accident summary says the airbag deployed on its own as Money sat at a traffic light two years ago.
We asked NHTSA about reports of aggressive deployments. The agency explained:
“NHTSA’s investigation addresses any and all Takata inflator failures creating an unreasonable risk to safety. The Takata airbag inflator recalls are the largest automotive recalls in U.S. history...."
In many cases heat, moisture and age trigger the dangerous deployments and inflator explosions which is why especially here in Florida it is crucial that you find out if your car is on the airbag recall list and get the airbags replaced right away. It is as simple as punching your VIN number into NHTSA website.