Honda says the man died in June 2016 when the airbag exploded, but they were only recently informed of the incident. It is the first death to involve a person who was not involved in a car accident. Instead, he was using a hammer to fix something inside a 2001 Honda Accord.
The company did not release the name of the man out of respect for his family, but confirmed that he was not the car’s owner and he was working on the vehicle at a private residence. The owner had received 12 recall notices.
Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the man had taken apart the car’s center console and was using a hammer to fix something when the airbag exploded and sprayed out metal shrapnel. He died the following day.
“The rupture most likely contributed to his death,” according to Mr. Martin. At least 17 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide are now linked to the issue. Of those deaths, 16 occurred in Honda vehicles since May 2009.
Mr. Martin did not explain what caused the airbag to deploy, but noted that the airbags on the vehicle are activated by a deceleration sensor that is mounted between the engine and passenger compartment.
Police photos show the metal airbag inflator exploded and shot out fragments of metal. Honda said the car was parked but the ignition switch was on, with the airbags activated. The incident occurred in Hialeah, Florida.
Honda is again urging consumers who own a recalled vehicles to contact the company and get a replacement immediately.
The airbags on the following Hondas models have up to a 50% chance of exploding in a crash: 2001 and 2002 Accord and Civic, the 2002 CR-V and Odyssey, the 2002 and 2003 Acura 3.2 TL, the 2003 Acura 3.2 CL and the 2003 Pilot.