October 18, 1995 in Nation/World

Car’s Air Bag Blamed In 5-Year Old’s Death

Associated Press

An autopsy has implicated an air bag in the death of a 5-year-old boy who broke his neck when his grandmother’s car bumped into a concrete planter box in a parking lot.

The dual air bags inflated in the Oct. 10 accident, twisting Jordan West’s head, said Val Wilson, North Salt Lake police chief. Medical examiners said “the air bag definitely had a cause in the death,” Wilson said Monday.

Lynn Oliver was trying to park the Camaro Z-28 and was driving slowly, Wilson said.

General Motors Corp. spokesman Ed Lechtzin said: “Because we haven’t had a chance to investigate the case or the car, it would be inappropriate to comment on it.”

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration also plans to investigate.

“We felt we needed to know what happened in this incident,” agency spokesman Tim Hurd said Tuesday.

Oliver, 41, said she and the boy, who lived in Bountiful, were wearing seat belts.

Dr. Jeffrey Augenstein, a Miami trauma surgeon who is studying auto accidents, said the only known cases in which an air-bag deployment led to a death were when the victim was not wearing a seat belt.

Medical examiners have not yet provided a specific cause of death but said the boy’s broken neck contributed, Wilson said.

Oliver was not hurt, and no charges were filed.

“We don’t feel there was any negligence on her part. We have checked it out several times,” Wilson said.

“The damage to the car was almost minimal.”

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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