U.S. officials looking into possible seventh Takata air bag death

By David Morgan
A deployed, drivers side air bag is seen in a 2002 BMW at an auto dismantling facility in San Francisco, California May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators said on Wednesday that they are looking into a possible seventh death linked to defective Takata air bag inflators, a Louisiana woman who died after her 2005 Honda Civic hit a utility pole in the early hours of April 5.

A lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court by the family of the victim, 22-year-old Kylan Rae Langlinais, claims the car's Takata driver-side air bag exploded on impact, sending shards of metal into the passenger compartment and severing the woman's carotid artery. She died four days later.

The lawsuit names Honda Motor Co Ltd and Takata Corp as defendants.

It surfaced just weeks after federal auto safety regulators announced the recall of millions of defective Takata air bag inflators linked to six other deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

"We are aware of the crash and we are gathering information from the manufacturer and from the attorneys representing the victim's family," said Gordon Trowbridge, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A Takata spokesman declined to comment.

Honda said in a statement that it was also trying to gather more information: "The crash may have resulted in the rupture of the Takata driver front airbag inflator. Honda is now in communication with representatives of the family."

The recall involves driver-side and passenger-side air bag inflators in vehicles made by 11 automakers. But all the deaths have occurred in cars manufactured by Honda, Takata's top customer.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Christian Plumb)