WASHINGTON -- American Honda confirmed today that a Takata airbag explosion was behind the April death of a Louisiana woman, bringing the number of deaths linked to defective airbags from Takata to seven.
The driver-side airbag in the 2005 Honda Civic driven by the woman, Kylan Langlinais, ruptured when she crashed on April 5, Honda said in a statement.
That rupture “resulted in the death of the driver,” Honda said in a statement. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the Langlinais family during this difficult time.”
"Honda has communicated information collected to date about this crash to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and a NHTSA representative was present when Honda inspected the airbag inflator to confirm rupture," the statement said.
NHTSA said it reached the conclusion after examining evidence including a police report, medical records and an inspection of the vehicle.
NHTSA, which recently announced the recall of millions of defective Takata airbags, has been gathering information from the carmaker, family attorneys and other sources.
The family has already filed a federal lawsuit charging that the airbags were to blame for her death.
"After examination of the vehicle and other evidence, NHTSA has concluded that a ruptured Takata airbag inflator is likely to have been involved," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a separate statement today.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the first notification that this vehicle needed a replacement airbag was mailed April 2. The woman's car was covered by a “safety improvement campaign” to replace Takata airbags in vehicles located in high-humidity regions that began in June 2014, and the first mailed notifications were sent last September.
“Honda deeply regrets that mailed notification appears to have not reached Ms. Langlinais prior to her crash,” Martin said in a written statement.
Typically, automakers are required to mail recall notifications to customers within 60 days of telling regulators of a given recall. However, because the car was part of a “safety improvement campaign” that sought to replace parts contained in vehicles from a limited region, as opposed to a national recall campaign, the 60-day notification requirement doesn’t apply.
Martin said Honda has notified customers affected by the June 2014 Takata call-back in phases due to limited replacement-part availability, first prioritizing vehicles that were also included in past recalls for Takata airbags that had manufacturing-related defects.
“There is no way to predict specific airbag inflator ruptures,” Martin said in a statement. “Considering the unprecedented challenges of a large population of older vehicles and limited replacement part supplies in the early stages of the campaign, Honda phased the mailings for the Safety Improvement Campaign, beginning with specific vehicle populations and geographic areas considered by Takata and the NHTSA to be at highest risk for an airbag inflator rupture.”
Langlinais’ death marked the second time this year that a driver received a notification too late. Carlos Solis IV died after his Takata airbag inflator ruptured in a relatively minor crash in his 2002 Honda Accord on Jan. 18. Even though his Accord was included in a safety improvement campaign to replace the airbag that began in June 2014, Honda had not yet mailed Solis his notification at the time of his crash in January.
Defective Takata airbag inflators have been linked to six other deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide. All of the deaths have occurred in vehicles manufactured by Honda.
Reuters contributed to this report.