The Suicide Squad actor recently opened up about the death of one of his first loves in the September/October issue of GQ Australia.
Eastwood did not name the woman, but photos show he dated a 26-year-old model named Jewel Brangman. On Sept. 7, 2014, Brangman was driving from San Diego to Los Angeles when she died in a car accident after rear-ending a van, the Associated Press reported. Her death subsequently prompted her father to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Honda, the airbag manufacturer and the rental company of the vehicle she was driving, a 2001 Honda Civic.
Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined her air bag inflated with too much force and spewed metal shrapnel, killing the gymnastics coach and model, according to AP.
The airbags were manufactured by a company called Takata Corp. of Japan, and according to the report, the chemical used to quickly inflate the airbags, ammonium nitrate, can become unstable when exposed to moisture, thus incinerating too quickly and causing the metal canister to explode.
“My life changed. It was horrific,” her father, Alexander Brangman told San Diego’s ABC-10 in July 2015.
“I couldn’t even breathe. I collapsed to the floor,” he also told NBC Los Angeles, of the moment he learned of her death.
After her death, Brangman’s father filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Honda, Takata and the Sunset Car Rental LLC of San Diego.
“Air bags are supposed to save lives,” he says. “Not be the cause to take them.”
The lawsuit alleged the defective air bag cut Brangman’s neck, causing brain injury that ultimately led to her death, the AP reported. It also accused the car rental company, Sunset Rental, of renting the dangerous vehicle.
Eastwood called the cause of her death “f—– up” when speaking about it in his interview with GQ Australia.
“It was a fender bender, and there was a recall on airbags,” he explained. “Her airbag exploded. It shot a projectile through her body. It split her spine.”
As of April 2016, 11 people worldwide had been killed by the exploding airbag made by Takata, the AP reports. At the time of her death, Brangman was the eighth casualty.
There have been 14 automakers who have recalled about 24 million vehicles in the U.S. because of the defective airbags – the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
Brangman’s father had moved from New York to be closer to his daughter. He described her to ABC-10 as a college graduate and model who taught gymnastics in San Diego.
“I just want the world to know how special Jewel was and how much she was loved, and how much I loved her,” he told the news network.
Eastwood, who didn’t disclose how long the two were together, confessed to GQ Australia that he never called the woman’s father to send his condolences. “I still haven’t found the right words,” he said.
The loss still sits with him to this day. “I’ve lost friends before; I’ve lost some great friends. But, I had never lost someone I had been really intimate with, you know, like in that way, in a relationship,” Eastwood said.