Takata airbags to blame for George Ranch High School student's death; 10th in U.S.

FORT BEND COUTY, Texas - A teenager from Fort Bend County has died from injuries due to an exploding Takata air bag. 

The victim has been identified as Huma Hanif, 17. Honda said Hanif was killed in Fort Bend County on March 31 when a driver's air bag inflator ruptured in the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic.

Fort Bend County sheriff's deputies said she rear-ended another car on FM 762 at Gonyo Road.

Deputies said in a news conference Thursday that a metal piece from the airbag cut and killed her. They said she should have survived the crash, if not for the airbag.

"There is no doubt that the Takata air bag inside her 2002 Honda Civic failed and fired a sharp piece of jagged metal into her throat at point-blank range, from less than two feet away," Sheriff Troy Nehls said. "Our investigation revealed that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the right neck area, which severed her jugular vein and carotid artery."

Nehls went on to say that the piece of metal found in Hanif's neck came from the airbag in her car.

The Sheriff's Department said she died within a matter of seconds.

Her brother appealed to the public at Thursday's press conference.

"I would like for anyone watching this to pray for my sister and my family," he said. "I would just like to urge everyone regardless of whether or not you receive a recall notice, if you have a car that has a defective air bag, get it fixed before you lose a loved one on it."

Her said Hanif had dreams of going to college and becoming a nurse. She was a senior at George Ranch High School.

Principal Frederick J. Black Jr. sent a letter home to parents April 1 that read in part:

"The Lamar CISD crisis team, made up of school counselors from across the District, was on site today to provide support to staff and students.

"If your student is having trouble dealing with this tragic event, please encourage them to speak with one of our counselors."

Those who rushed to try and save the teen's life said at first they couldn't understand how a relatively minor crash could have ended her life.

Oscar Ariaca was the first to try and save Hanif. Araica said the damage to Hanif's car wasn't that bad, but she had a large gash in her neck.

"I tried to hold where the blood was coming out, but I feel like there was not a whole lot I could do," Ariaca said.

He said he has trouble getting the images out of his mind.

"I haven't been sleeping really good," Ariaca said. "It's been hard because I have kids, too."

Hanif is the 10th known death in the U.S. from a Takata inflator and the 11th worldwide. More than 100 people have been hurt as a result of the malfunction. The air bags are the subject of the largest automotive recall in history. Check if your car made the recall list online at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Honda issued its own statement reading Hanif's car was part of this and other recalls adding:

"Multiple mailed recall notices were sent over the course of several years to registered owners of this vehicle, including the current registered owner. Our records indicate that the recall repair was never completed."

[WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO OF HANIF'S DEPLOYED AIRBAG]

[WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO OF HANIF'S DEPLOYED AIRBAG]

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and spew shrapnel at drivers and passengers. So far 14 automakers have recalled 24 million U.S. vehicles in what is now the largest auto recall in the country's history. About 7.1 million inflators have been replaced.

American Honda released a statement that read, in part: "American Honda continues to urge owners of Honda and Acura vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recalls to get their vehicles repaired at authorized dealers as soon as possible.  Vehicle owners can check their vehicles' recall status online at for Honda and Acura."

Hanif is the second person in the Houston area to be killed by faulty Takata airbags.

In January 2015, 35-year-old Carlos Solis died in low-speed crash near Spring High School. He was driving a 2002 Honda Accord.

His family is suing Honda, Takata and the dealership that sold the car.

Safercar.Gov issued a list of the Takata airbag recalls.  The list includes:

  • BMW
  • FCA (Chrysler)
  • Daimler Trucks North America
  • Daimler Vans USA LLC
  • Ford
  • General Motors (GM)
  • Honda
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Ram
  • Subaru
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen (VW)


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Copyright 2016 by KPRC Click2Houston. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.