Latest information on the death of “Star Trek” film actor Anton Yelchin says the accident was caused by a fault from his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
According to a report, the SUV that crushed “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin was being recalled because the gear shifters have confused drivers, causing the vehicles to roll away unexpectedly.
Image: Anton Yelchin
Los Angeles police say Yelchin died when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway early Sunday. The SUV pinned the 27-year-old against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence.
Fiat Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, said in a statement Monday that it’s investigating and it’s premature to speculate on the cause of the crash. It offered sympathies to Yelchin’s friends and family.
Most 2015 model year Grand Cherokees were part of a global recall of 1.1 million vehicles announced by Fiat Chrysler in April.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged the recall amid complaints that drivers had trouble telling if they had put the automatic transmissions in park. If they weren’t in park and a driver left the vehicle, it could roll away.
Last August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into 2014 to 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured from July 16, 2012, to Dec. 22, 2015, after receiving 14 complaints from drivers alleging the vehicle had rolled away after they thought they had shifted it into park.
After the investigation, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which manufactures the Jeep Grand Cherokee, issued a voluntary recall in April for 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees.
According to a safety recall report from the NHTSA, the Grand Cherokee is equipped with a monostable gear shifter. The shifter does not slide forward or backward like a conventional gear shifter; instead, the shifter always returns to the center position after the gear is selected, according to Mopar, FCA’s parts, service and customer care organization.
As a result, the NHTSA report stated that FCA determined that some drivers “erroneously concluding 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.”
According to the report, FCA determined that not having “an additional mechanism to mitigate the effects of driver error in failing to shift the monostable gear selector into park prior to exiting the vehicle constitutes a defect presenting a risk to motor vehicle safety.”
Also included in the recall were the 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and the 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300, both of which are equipped with the same monostable gear shifter.
It has not been determined whether this defect was the reason the vehicle rolled into Yelchin.
FCA expressed its “most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin” on Monday. In a statement to ABC News, Jeep’s parent company said it was “conducting a thorough investigation” into the accident, adding that “it is premature to speculate on the cause of this tragedy.”
Yelchin was on his way to meet friends for a rehearsal when the accident happened. After he didn’t show up, his friends went to check on him and found him dead by his car.
Director J.J. Abrams, who directed Yelchin in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise, remembered the actor in a statement on Twitter, writing, “You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren’t here nearly long enough.”