They're supposed to protect you from serious injury in a crash. But air bags, designed to possibly save your life, nearly claimed the life of 18-year-old Karina Dorado.
“Almost killed her," said Dorado's attorney, Billie-Marie Morrison.
In March, another driver caused Dorado to crash her Honda Accord at South Louise Street and Patterson Avenue.
“The vehicle she was driving had a recalled air bag in it," Morrison said.
What should have been a routine fender-bender almost turned deadly, Morrison said, because of a Takata air bag.
"This air bag made by Takata is basically a bomb."
A faulty inflator can explode when the chemical propellant inside breaks down, possibly sending shrapnel shooting out toward the driver.
"It could've blown her head off," Morrison said.
The flying debris tore through Dorado's windpipe.
"She wasn't able to speak for quite some time," Morrison said.
Dorado is one of 200 victims injured or killed by the inflators. She’s also one of the latest victims injured by the faulty air bag at the center of a massive worldwide recall.
"She can't work. She can barely speak. She doesn't understand what's going to happen,” Morrison said.
What Dorado didn't know was her car was damaged in a wreck in 2015, rebuilt and resold. A salvage yard pulled an air bag inflator from another car and placed it in Dorado's. Honda traced that inflator to a 2001 Accord.
"Right now her life is shattered."
It is legal to pull air bags, even recalled ones, out of wrecked cars and re-sell them to junkyards. The shops may not even know about the recall. No government agency monitors those transactions. And no states appear to have laws against reusing recalled parts.