The May 27 death of a recent Carl Albert High School graduate in the school’s parking lot is the fatality linked to a Honda Motor Co. recall of more than 822,000 vehicles, officials confirmed. Ashley N. Parham, 18, of Oklahoma City, was killed by a malfunctioning airbag unit in her 2001 Honda Accord sedan, Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said. Parham, who graduated four days before the wreck, had picked up her brother from spring football practice and crashed when she didn’t yield to another car in the lot behind the Carl Albert field house, Clabes said. "The airbag deployed, shards of metal exploded from the airbag mechanism, and that’s what penetrated her neck and caused her fatal injury,” Clabes said. No one else was seriously injured in the wreck. The state medical examiner ruled Parham’s death an accident caused by sharp force injury to the left side of her neck. The examiner’s report said she also had a "penetrating injury” to the right side of her chest, from which an unspecified "projectile” was recovered at the hospital. Parham’s death is the only fatality linked to a recall that was expanded Tuesday to almost 378,800 more vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said. Citing respect for the family’s grief, Martin said Honda had no further comment about the incident. Parham’s family filed a lawsuit Aug. 6 in Oklahoma County District Court against Honda; the Takata Corp., which made the car’s seat belt and airbag system; and several of the companies’ subsidiaries. Honda and Takata denied fault in a $5,000 settlement approved a day later. The family alleged in the suit that Ashley’s brother, Melton Parham Jr., suffered emotional injuries from witnessing his sister’s death. The settlement money will be available to Melton when he turns 18. The attorney who represented the Parham family in the suit, Randy P. Conner, did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday. Efforts to reach the Parhams were not successful. A potentially faulty airbag system in several Honda models also has been linked to 11 injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said. The systems were installed primarily in 2001 and 2002 Honda Accords, Civics, Odysseys, CR-Vs and some Acura models. Honda first recalled about 4,000 vehicles in November 2008, but Parham’s Accord was not among them, Martin said. Honda expanded the recall to about 440,000 more vehicles in July before expanding it again Tuesday. Parham’s car was included in July’s recall. Clabes said police did not pursue criminal charges in the death.
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