Fiat Chrysler will launch an investigation into this weekend’s death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. The 27-year-old, best known for playing Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was crushed by his recently recalled 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Friends found Yelchin pinned between his Jeep and a gate post at the end of his driveway early Sunday morning, after he missed a rehearsal. Investigators believe his Jeep may not have been in park and rolled backwards down the steep driveway, crushing him. Police say Yelchin had gotten out of the vehicle momentarily, but they don’t know why he was behind it when it started rolling.
“FCA US extends its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin,” FCA said in a statement. “The company is in contact with the authorities and is conducting a thorough investigation. It is premature to speculate on the cause of this tragedy.”
Yelchin’s Jeep Grand Cherokee is among three models recently recalled due to what amounts to a shifter design flaw.
Basically, drivers can’t tell if the car is actually in park because the shifter springs back to the center position. In April, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 300 complaints, including reports of 121 roll-away crashes. Drivers say they mistakenly thought they were in park, when in fact they weren’t. At the time, FCA reported at least 41 injuries potentially related to the design.
We don’t know yet whether Yelchin had scheduled a service visit to address the recall, or whether his Jeep had already been fixed.
FCA mailed notices to affected customers in mid-May. FCA is installing a software upgrade that will make sure cars won’t move if not in “Park” and a driver’s door is open. The automaker is also beefing up the driver warning system.
JJ Abrams directed Yelchin in the first two reboot Star Trek films. He paid tribute to the actor on Twitter, calling him “brilliant”.
Yelchin appears in Star Trek Beyond due for release next month.
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