A Kearns girl was seriously injured after an airbag inflated and knocked her in the face Monday.

Nykele Doman, 8, was riding in the passenger seat of a car driven by her father, Tom Doman, when it became involved in a car crash about 7 p.m., said Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Mike Schoenfeld. The car was nearing an intersection on 4900 South and about 4000 West when it smashed into the back of a truck, deploying the airbags.The girl was transported by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center, Schoenfeld said. She was listed in serious condition Tuesday.

The car was a total loss. The impact flung the car parts all over the road and smashed the hood and windshield, witnesses said. It apparently went under the truck's tires.

Airbags have saved more than 1,500 lives since first introduced in the 1980s, according to estimates by the National Transportation and Safety Board. However, at least 19 children have died and countless children have been injured when bags have deployed, primarily because their small bodies can't survive the force of deployment. Airbags are designed to protect an average adult about 5-feet 9-inches tall and 150 pounds.

The National Transportation Safety Board recommends that children ride in the back seat and in November called on all 50 states to enact laws that would prohibit any child under age 13 from riding in a vehicle's front passenger seat.

In Utah, at least three children have been killed, including a Provo infant and a Syracuse 4-year-old in 1997 and 5-year-old Jordan West of Bountiful in 1995. West's neck was broken by the impact of the airbag. His family has filed a lawsuit against General Motors and airbag manufacturer Morton International.