Klobuchar: 'Unacceptable' that MN woman blinded by airbags not told of recall


A Minnesota woman was permanently blinded when a defective airbag deployed in 2013, and now she's telling her story – to the public and to lawmakers – in hopes that others won't end up suffering through the same.

Shashi Chopra was a passenger in her family's BMW when they were involved in a minor accident last year. The force with which the Takata airbag deployed is believed to have caused her blindness, KARE 11 says.

Chopra's case is part of an investigation into Takata airbags, which are part of a massive nationwide recall affecting 7.8 million vehicles from 10 automakers. The airbags have been linked to four fatalities and more than 100 injuries – in some cases metal shards penetrated a driver's face and neck, according to Consumer Reports.

The accident took Chopra's independence and increased medical expenses have taken a toll on the family. They told the Star Tribune they're considering their options, including a lawsuit, but wanted to share their story out of hopes something like this doesn't happen to anyone else.

Chopra and her family visited with Sen. Amy Klobuchar Monday.

Klobuchar had shared Chopra's story at a Senate hearing last week, where she questioned Takata executives about why the company didn't inform automakers of the defective airbags when they discovered them in 2004, MPR News reports.

Chopra's family, however, wasn't notified about the airbag's recall until well after the accident.

"The fact that [Chopra] wasn’t even informed about this defect until a year and a half after the accident is completely unacceptable," Klobuchar wrote in a letter last week to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "I will continue pushing automakers and federal safety officials to do everything necessary to get unsafe cars off the streets and keep consumers safe."

Klobuchar is also pushing transportation officials to broaden their investigation and urging better communication between automakers so similar accidents don't happen again.

“Minor accidents would end up killing people,” Klobuchar said, according to WCCO. “And they killed people not because of the accident. They killed people because of the airbag.”

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