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Star Trek Actor's Death May Be Linked To Jeep Shifter Issue

21 Juin 2016 - Autoblog

Star Trek Actor's Death May Be Linked To Jeep Shifter Issue

The tragic death of Anton Yelchin on Sunday may have resulted from a known design flaw with his Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The 27-year-old actor, best known for playing Pavel Chekov in the latest Star Trek movies, was reportedly crushed when his vehicle rolled backwards down the driveway in front of his house, pinning him against a brick pillar and metal gate.

The 2014-15 Grand Cherokee was one of three models (alongside the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans) that Fiat Chrysler recalled this past April due to roll-away risk. The vehicle was equipped with an unintuitive "e-shifter" that didn't deliver the usual tactile response of being shifted into position, leading to numerous drivers exiting the vehicle mistakenly thinking that it was in Park. The problem was reported to have resulted in 41 injuries – and now possibly Yelchin's death as well.

The manufacturer stated at the time of the recall that "the vehicles involved in these events were inspected and no evidence of equipment failure was found." It determined that while the vehicle warned occupants if the driver's-side door was opened while the engine was running and the transmission not in the Park position, such measures may have been insufficient. Its remedy for the problem involved updating the vehicle software to better warn drivers in such an event, and changing the design for subsequent models.

"Regarding the recall," an FCA spokesman told Autoblog, "I can confirm notices were mailed to affected customers. Included in those notices were tip sheets describing proper operation of the shifter. This supplemental information echoes the instructions in the owner's manual."

Yelchin was born March 11, 1989, in St. Petersburg, Russia. His parents were a figure-skating pair, and defected to the United States when Anton was just six months old. In the prime of his career, Yelchin had several films currently in development, including Star Trek Beyond, set to reach theaters next month. His body was reportedly discovered by friends when he didn't show up for rehearsal.

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