When Walter Wilkins of Norfolk saw a recent network news story about a minor traffic accident that took the life of a 26-year-old New Jersey girl, it stopped him in his tracks.
Jewel Brangman died because her airbag exploded. “It was a fender bender,” her father Alexander Brangman said. “So she should’ve walked away from it. … If you could imagine a sharp metal of a hand grenade, it hit her carotid artery and she bled out. She lost nine pints of blood. She coded three times.”
Wilkins, who owns Bay Automotive, says the Takata airbag was under a safety recall that had not been fixed. “I decided then that we would not keep a trade in or buy a car from an auction with one of those recalls in place,” says Wilkins, who previously owned new car dealerships selling Chevrolet, Saab and Kia in Norfolk.
“Any outstanding safety recall is serious, it can lead to a crash, a death, or an injury, and you should never buy a used car that has an outstanding safety recall on it,” Center for Auto Safety’s Clarence Ditlow said in the CBS report.
Wilkins agrees. “It can be time consuming and expensive for a used car dealer to have a safety recall addressed, but the information is available if you look for it,” he says. “So the best protection for the dealer and especially for the public is not to put those vehicles on the lot. I believe we are the first ones in this area to make this pledge, but I am hoping everyone will do so, and the public will demand documentation before buying a car with a pending recall.”
To interview Walter Wilkins, call Joel Rubin of Rubin Communications Group at 757-456-5212.