Jeep Defect May Have Caused Star Trek Star's Death

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Chrysler has had its share of recall problems lately, especially with its Jeeps. For the most part, these issues might've flown under the radar, but those days may be over. Actor Anton Yelchin, perhaps most famous for his role as Chekov in the recently rebooted Star Trek movies, was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled over him in his own driveway.

And now, what would be seen as a tragic accident has exposed more issues with Jeeps, as Yelchin's death has been linked to a known defect with the vehicle's gear shifter that was already subject to a recall from Chrysler.

In the Wrong Gear

The gear shifter on the Jeep Grand Cherokee and other Chrysler vehicles is electronic, operating much like a video game joystick. As described by car blog Jalopnik:

...a driver presses and holds a button and pushes the shifter all the way up to set the car in park, after which the shifter centers itself again. But Fiat Chrysler said the Jeep's shifter design didn't provide drivers with sufficient feedback for them to know what gear their car was in, and so some drivers just left the vehicles in neutral before exiting the car.

Allegedly, the defect has been linked to 41 injuries, usually as the Jeep would unexpectedly rollaway. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had begun investigating reports of shifter malfunctions in February and Fiat Chrysler issued a recall regarding the shifters in April.

Just One of Those Freak Accidents

Los Angeles police are investigating whether the faulty gear shift played a role in Yelchin's death, caused when his Jeep pinned him against a brick mailbox pillar and security fence at his home. The Los Angeles County coroner's office "concluded that Yelchin's death was an accident" caused by "blunt traumatic asphyxia." In addition, Fiat Chrysler will also be investigating the accident, after it was determined that Yelchin's 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee was subject to the recall.

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