Fort Bend County family sues Honda, airbag maker after teen killed in minor crash

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He says airbags made by Takata are essentially bombs waiting to explode. 

“The airbag that Takata makes has 45% equivalency of a hand grenade,” says Attorney Mo Aziz who represents a Fort Bend County family who has now filed a lawsuit against Honda Motor Company and the airbag maker Takata. 

The lawsuit claims 17-year-old Huma Hanif would still be alive if not for what they call a defective airbag system.  According to the family they filed this suit because the very safety measure that was supposed to save the high school senior is what actually killed her.  That's confirmed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. 

“There's no reason Huma should have been fatally injured in this crash,” adds Aziz. 

The teen's 2002 Honda Civic was left with very little damage after she slammed into another driver in Fort Bend County March 31, 2016.  So why was the 17-year-old killed in the crash?

”There's a piece of metal that's missing from here and unfortunately that piece of metal is what caused Huma's fatal injury,” reveals Aziz as he shows a picture of the airbag canister from the teen's vehicle. 

According to the Hanif's attorney Takata uses the chemical Ammonium Nitrate to inflate the airbag when there's a crash.
Aziz says Ammonium Nitrate degrades every time it heats above and falls below 90 degrees.

"After these thermal cycles, instead of acting as a pyro technic that can inflate the airbag the Ammonium Nitrate actually detonates,” explains Aziz who points out "in a hand grenade there is 180 grams of TNT". 

He says science proves 100 grams of Ammonium Nitrate is nearly just as powerful.  Aziz says the explosion sent a piece of the metal airbag canister flying like shrapnel straight at the 17-year-old piercing her neck.

You can see a single hole in the airbag that was supposed to deploy to keep the teen safe.

”She was not only a daughter to my parents, she was like my own child. As her older brother I raised her to be strong and I had confidence she would do great things in life,” explains Huma’s brother Faizan Hanif.

"I rarely made any new friends because my sister was all I needed. This tragedy was a nightmare for us and it is still hard to believe that she's not with us anymore,” cries Uzma Hanif. The brother and sister spoke in a news conference announcing the lawsuit and saying they do not want this to happen to anyone else.  Their dad was also there but didn’t speak. Their mom was too emotional over her daughter’s death she did not attend.  The Hanif’s now have three surviving children including a son who is younger than Huma.

Aziz says Takata used to inflate airbags using a different chemical and switched to Ammonium Nitrate several years ago. 

"Based on our investigation Takata is the only one that chooses to use Ammonium Nitrate. Huma is the tenth person in the country to die as a result of an exploding Takata airbag since 2009,” says Aziz.

”Takata has admitted in public filings that Ammonium Nitrate can detonate under certain circumstances”.  Aziz says Takata airbags are still being sold and not only to Honda. "They sell to other carmakers as well. They've sold to Ford.  One of the fatalities was in a Ford vehicle. They have sold to Acura. They sell to a lot of car companies but mostly Honda,” says Aziz.
Huma was set to graduate high school next month. She wanted to be a nurse like her mom and big sister. 

“She aspired to be a nurse because she loved helping people. She was a leader and I'm sure she would have gone far in her life,” says Huma’s big brother.

"Huma was not only my little sister she was my best friend. Every night we used to talk about our plans and goals.  It is just hard to accept that I will never be able to hug her, hold her or tell her how much I love her again,” cries Uzma.

The lawsuit names Takata, Honda Motor Company, Westside Hummer which is the Houston dealership where the car was purchased, an auto shop that conducted the state inspection in June 2015 and allegedly failed to tell the family about a recall and the driver who the teen ran into is also being sued for “suddenly stopping”.  Those named in the lawsuit have thirty days to respond to the accusations.

Ammonium Nitrate is the chemical that has caused a number of deadly explosions, including, you may remember the fatal blast in West, Texas in 2013.