NC widow remembers husband killed by airbag

Joel Knight and his wife. (Elrod Pope Law Firm)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – A Charlotte area man’s death is one of the ten linked to defective airbag inflators, and his widow worries the safety devices aren’t being ‘fixed fast enough.’

Between 35-40 million Takata airbag inflators were recalled as part of an expanded recall that already included nearly 30 million airbags, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration.

Joel Knight lived in Lancaster County with his family before he was killed in a car wreck on December 22, 2015.

Investigators said Knight was driving his Ford Ranger pickup when it struck a cow in the road. Knight’s airbag deployed, but Knight died after the coroner said a piece of metal shrapnel pierced through his body and caused him to bleed out.

“It still hurts to know that something that should be saving your life is what caused your death,” said Ann Knight, Joel Knight’s widow.

Joel Knight's damaged truck (Elrod Pope Law Firm)
Joel Knight’s damaged truck (Elrod Pope Law Firm)

After his death, the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration issued a recall on 5 million Takata airbag inflators. Since that time, the recall has expanded to include millions of other inflators in more than one dozen major manufacturers. After the announcement, Ann Knight got a recall letter for her husband’s vehicle.

“Because he died is the reason you had to do a recall on 5 million vehicles and you send me a letter to tell me there’s a recall on the driver’s side of his truck? Well you’re a little too dog gone late,” Knight said.

A Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee has been investigating Takata airbag inflators.

In a February addendum to a 2015 report, the minority committee alleged that “…emails and documents reviewed by committee minority staff reveal a culture within Takata that at a minimum, did not prioritize the safety of its products, and perhaps operated with an utter disregard for safety. Numerous internal documents and emails reference the widespread manipulation of inflator test results…”

Takata has denied claims that it manipulated data relating to the airbag inflator models in question. Knight has filed a lawsuit against Takata and Ford.

Both companies have denied responsibility for Knight’s death. With millions of airbag inflators included in the recall, Ann Knight is encouraging everyone to check what is inside their vehicle.

“I don’t want anyone to go through what we’ve been through, this is horrible, just an airbag,” Knight said.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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