Takata airbag victim’s family gets answers after four months; airbag to blame for death

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) -Lancaster County is labeled with a title it doesn’t want right now - the only place in America where two people have died from faulty Takata airbags.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 67 million Takata airbags have been recalled because they can explode when they go off.

Rekeyon Barnette is the 19th victim in the country since the recall almost 10 years ago.

When a person is sitting in the car and get into a crash - your airbag is supposed to protect you, but the attorney for Rekeyon Barnette’s family say instead, his killed him.

Takata airbags are sitting in a canister. The attorney, Bob Cook, says when he got in a crash, the canister lid shot out at him, right into his mouth and got stuck in his throat. That is what killed him.

”This crash should not have caused his death,” says Cook.

Barnette was making a left turn from Gillsbrook Road onto Highway 9 in Lancaster. This was Jan. 8 around 10 p.m. It is a turn Rekeyon Barnette had made plenty of times before, but what happened right after the crash killed him.

”The crash had nothing to do with it,” says Cook. “It was completely on the faulty airbag.”

Cook represents Barnette’s wife. He says the last four months have been difficult, though it was slightly soothing to hear Honda and the traffic safety agency confirm that Barnette’s airbag did not work correctly.

The two companies came to Lancaster to inspect the car in an independent investigation.

“Obviously she’s been grieving but there was a limited sense of relief, but it doesn’t bring him back and it doesn’t make it any easier for her,” he says.

In 2015, Joel Knight’s wife said the same words. He was another victim in Lancaster County where the airbag did not work. It instead sent shrapnel into his neck, according to the coroner. This was a completely separate incident.

”I wish you wouldn’t have went to work that night, I would love to have you back,” she says.

Back in Cook’s office, there is still a long road ahead to get the justice the family feels they deserve.

”We’re in this for the long haul. We want to make sure Takata they are held accountable and the same goes with Honda,” says Cook.

People can check a vehicle and see if any part has been recalled. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website here and use the car’s vehicle identification number or VIN to look that up. That is usually on a registration card. Anyone is encouraged to do that as soon as possible.

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