Anthony Yelchin, an actor known for playing Chekov in the new Star Trek films, was killed when his own car struck him after rolling backwards down the steep driveway at his California home.
Police investigating this tragedy indicated that it seemed Yelchin had not properly put the car in park. However, the vehicle involved in this tragedy, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over its “e-shift” transmission due to reports of crashes linked to confusion over whether the vehicle was in park. More than 100 crashes have been reported due to this gear selector problem. Of these crashes, 28 have caused injuries.
As opposed to gear selectors in most cars, which are in forward or back positions depending on whether the car is in park, reverse, neutral or drive, the gear selector in the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee always returns to the upright position after a driver changes gear. If a driver gets out of the vehicle while it is in neutral, the car could roll away and cause serious injuries.
Fiat Chrysler filed a recall notice in April with federal safety regulators, but car owners have not yet received an official recall notice because it has to wait for replacement parts to become available before it can start repairs. At that point, Fiat Chrysler will send a recall notice telling owners to bring in their cars for repairs. In the meantime, Fiat Chrysler has advised drivers to check that the car is in park and that the parking brake is on before exiting the vehicle. In addition to model year 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, model year 2012, 2013, and 2014 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300 sedans are also set to be recalled.
According to Fiat Chrysler, it is too early to say whether the accident that killed Yelchin was caused by the gear selector problem, but that it will conduct a thorough investigation.
If you or a loved one is seriously injured or killed by a defective automobile, it is important to understand the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner can help. Contact us today at (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211 for a free, confidential consultation.