Anton Yelchin, star of the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, was run over by his own Jeep Grand Cherokee in a freak auto accident on Sunday. The Hollywood actor was found deceased next to his vehicle in his own driveway by a group of friends. When Anton did not show up for a rehearsal, his friends became concerned and went to his home looking for him.
Yelchin stepped out of his car in the driveway of his home around 1:10 am PT when the car slid backwards and pinned him against a brick pillar and a metal security fence. The event caused severe trauma that led to his death. The Los Angelos Police Department confirmed Monday that his 5000-pound 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee was one of 248,667 models included in a voluntary recall in April for a defect in the vehicle’s gear selector and alert system that could cause the vehicle to roll away. Police continue to look into why Yelchin got out of his car, which was still in neutral. Fiat Chrysler, the car corporation that owns Jeep, continues to investigate the accident as well.
The recall includes 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees manufactured between June 2012 and December 2015. The models have been linked to 212 crashes and more than 40 injuries. Yelchin’s accident is the first fatality linked to the defect. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated, “Drivers thinking that their vehicle’s transmission is in the Park position may be struck by the vehicle and injured if they attempt to get out of the vehicle while the engine is running and the parking brake is not engaged.” Yelchin’s car had not been serviced to fix the problem.
Jeep Grand Cherokee owners have not gotten an official recall notice yet, but they did receive a notice warning about the problem in May. The warning advised drivers to double check that the car is in park and to use the parking brake to secure the car before exiting. It had been reported that a gear selector problem causes confusion about what gear the vehicle is actually in. Unlike most gear selectors, which are in forward or back positions depending on whether the car is in park, reverse, neutral, or drive, the defective vehicles’ gear selectors always return to the upright position after a driver changes gear. If a driver gets out of the car, thinking the vehicle is in park but it is actually in neutral, the vehicle could roll away.
Fiat Chrysler has to wait for replacement parts to become available before it can notify owners to bring their vehicles in for free repairs. The manufacturer plans to change how the gear selector works and enhance the alert system that notifies drivers when they are exiting the vehicle while it is not in park.
If you wish to learn more about the Jeep Grand Cherokee recall and the accidents caused by the defective parts, contact Louisville, KY auto product liability lawyer Tad Thomas at Thomas Law Offices for more information.