Faulty Airbag in Rental Linked to Death of Model, Gymnast, Celebrity Girlfriend

Airbags are supposed to help save lives – not take them. airbag

That’s what has Jewel Brangman’s father, Alexander, so incensed about the death of his beloved child, whom he called “my best friend.” The striking beauty was a college graduate, a model and a gymnast teacher. She lived in San Diego, and her father had moved there from New York to be closer to her. But the last Father’s Day card he ever received from her was in June 2014. In it, she told him no matter what, she’d always be his little girl.

Just months later, she was gone. She was reportedly traveling in a rental car on the Los Angeles freeway when she rear-ended a van. It was a multi-vehicle collision, involving four cars total. But while all others involved walked away with no serious injuries, 26-year-old Jewel was killed. The Honda in which Jewel was driving was reportedly equipped with a faulty airbag. The vehicle had been recalled back in 2009, but it doesn’t appear the airbag was ever switched. 

Now, the family attorney says both Honda and Takata, the maker of the airbag, have conceded it was the airbag that caused her death. The lawsuit, which names the auto manufacturer and the part manufacturer and the rental car company, alleges a piece of shrapnel pierced Jewel’s neck when the airbag inflated. This was reportedly the only injury she suffered in the car accident. This was, by all accounts, a collision from which she should have walked away.

According to 10News.com, Honda had reportedly issued several recall notices to the rental car company. However, for some reason, the vehicle was not repaired. The rental car company did not respond to requests for comment from local reporters in San Diego.

Alexander Brangman says the recall process is inherently flawed and Honda should have done a better job informing people of the potential danger. And of course, it wasn’t until June of this year that a federal law passed requiring rental car companies to fix recalled cars before they are rented out again. Hard to believe but before then, it was still perfectly legal to rent out a dangerous vehicle that had been recalled. The new law, part of a transportation bill that passed last year, followed numerous reports – including this one – of drivers and passengers in rental vehicles who were killed or seriously injured while driving rental vehicles that had been recalled, but not taken off the rental lot.

Another of those cases involved the death of two sisters, Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, 24 and 20, killed in 2004 when their rented PT Cruiser caught fire due to a defective pour steering hose. That resulted Raechel losing control of the car and slamming into a semi-truck, killing them both. Her mother said the family was shocked to learn it wasn’t illegal to rent out recalled vehicles without first repairing them. Today, the law has changed.

Sadly, the measure came too late for Brangman. Her death was mentioned recently in a GQ Australian article on Scott Eastwood, Clint’s son, who was dating her at the time of his death.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:

Scott Eastwood’s Lost Love: How a Faulty Airbag Led to the Death of His Model Girlfriend, Aug. 23, 2016, By Dave Quinn, People.com

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$20 Million Verdict Against Truck Company for Traumatic Brain Injury, Sept. 14, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Blog