The family of Joel Knight, the tenth victim of an airbag defect that has affected 14 automakers and more than 24 million vehicles in the U.S., says his death would have been prevented if Ford had launched a timely recall.
Mr. Knight, 52, of Kershaw County, South Carolina, was fatally injured on December 22 when the airbag inflator in his 2006 Ford Ranger ruptured as it dep
loyed. Mr. Knight, who was wearing his seatbelt, struck a cow that had wandered into the road on S.C. 522 southeast of Lancaster and northeast of Health Springs. The airbag inflator rupture caused a piece of metal shrapnel to pierce his neck and spine, killing him in what was otherwise a moderate and survivable crash.
Mr. Knight’s death, in part, prompted NHTSA on Friday to announce a new Takata airbag inflator recall of about 5 million vehicles, which would have included his 2006 Ford Ranger. In 2014, Honda and Toyota recalled the same defective Takata airbag inflator in at least 61 other countries, following a rupture that killed a Malaysian woman and her unborn child. Ford, the only automaker using that type of inflator in its U.S. vehicles, eventually issued a recall of the 2004-2005 Ranger, but only for vehicles in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ford has never recalled Rangers in other states, nor has it recalled the 2006 Ranger, even though it has the same inflator.
A month after Mr. Knight’s death, the latest recalls include around 1 million vehicles with SDI driver’s side inflators and 4 million with PSDI-5 driver’s side inflators in Ford, Audi, Mazda, and Volkswagen vehicles.
“We find it hard to understand that a defective inflator that had already been recalled in 2014 from cars around the world was still in Joel’s Ford,” says Creech. “There are many unanswered questions. How could Ford not know that this same inflator was in their trucks? And if they knew, why didn’t they recall them, too? This is clearly a failure of the recall system.” Creech added that suit was filed on Mr. Knight’s case on January 26, 2016.
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