Faulty Takata airbag was due to be replaced two days before fatal crash, inquest hears

| 23.09,19. 11:42 PM |

Faulty Takata airbag was due to be replaced two days before fatal crash, inquest hears

Photo: The deployed Takata airbag that injured a young Darwin driver in 2017. (Supplied: NT Police)

The fatal injuries suffered by a Sydney man due to a faulty airbag were so extreme they "resembled a shotgun wound", the NSW Coroner's Court has been told.

An inquest has begun into the death of Huy Neng Ngo, who died after an airbag deployed in a "relatively minor" car collision at Cabramatta in July 2017.

The court was told the 58-year-old's Honda CR-V was T-boned by another vehicle, causing his airbag to deploy.

The inflating mechanism in the Takata airbag malfunctioned, sending a "tube-like metal object" into his neck.

According to a forensic pathologist, "the injury caused by the metal fragment resembled a shotgun wound", Counsel Assisting David Kell SC told the inquest.

Mr Ngo's death was the first confirmed death attributable to a Takata airbag in Australia, the inquest was told.

However, a 21-year-old woman was seriously injured in the Northern Territory when a Takata airbag in a Toyota RAV4 malfunctioned.

The malfunctioning airbags have been linked to 20 deaths and 230 injuries worldwide, the inquest was told.

A compulsory recall is in place for approximately 600,000 affected airbags remaining in Australian vehicles.

New issues have been identified since the first warnings were issued, meaning some motorists may need to seek replacements for airbags they have already had refitted.

Motorists can check whether or not their airbags are affected by visiting ismyairbagsafe.com.au.

"Consumers should take immediate steps to check … and take action immoderately," Mr Kell said.

"Literally their lives or the lives of their loved ones … could depend on it."

Tragic timing

The airbags in Mr Ngo's vehicle were subject to a voluntary recall by Honda and were due to be replaced on July 11, just two days before his death.

But the family was unable to make that appointment, so the car dealership, Peter Warren Honda, rescheduled the replacement for October.

"A question may arise as to why … she was not directed or redirected to another Honda dealer which had earlier availability," Mr Kell said.

Honda Australia said it arranged to send five letters to the Ngo family, urging it to have the airbags replaced.

But the family told investigators it only received two of those warnings and scheduled a replacement shortly after receiving them.

The early letters did not warn about the risk of fatal injuries, which Mr Kell said could be viewed as being "suboptimal".

Later letters were more blunt, warning that "choosing not to act could be deadly".

In Feburary 2017, the Takata Corporation pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to pay a $1.3 billion penalty for concealing a deadly defect in millions of its airbags.


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