HOLIDAY (AP) - A defective Takata airbag is being blamed for the death of a Pasco County woman according to a report released Wednesday by Florida Highway Patrol.
Investigators said the crash the killed Nichol Barker Pahlck, a 34-year-old mother of three, should have been relatively minor but turned deadly when shrapnel exploded out of the malfunctioning airbag and hit Pahlck in the head.
"This has been a survivable crash," said Sgt. Steve Gaskins, an FHP spokesperson. "A lot of people put a lot of effort into determining exactly what went wrong that day. And again Takata airbag to blame at this point."
The accident happened last July near the intersection of Moog Road and Pinehurst Drive in Holiday.
According to the FHP report:
"Nothing in [vehicle 2], with the exception of the airbag, would have caused the facial injuries and ultimately the death of [Pahlck]...the inflator rupture was consistent with similar cases involving Takata airbags...this crash should not have been fatal."
Takata airbags have been the subject of a massive recall affecting 34 million vehicles and 46 million airbags in the U.S., according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics. A Consumer Reports article published before Pahlck's accident last year wrote that 11 people have died and 180 have been injured by malfunctioning Takata airbags.
The FHP report said Pahlck bought the 2002 Honda Accord from a private seller in 2016 but it's unclear if she or the previous owner knew about the recall. Honda has reportedly said it tried to contact the owners about the recall, but the Pahlk's family has disputed that in other published reports.
"A good reminder for everyone to take the time out, check the recalls on your vehicles, especially vehicles equipped with this type of equipment," Gaskins said.
FOX 13 attempted to contact Pahlck's husband but no one answered the door at the addresses listed under he and Nichol Pahlck's names.