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June 21, 2016

Star Trek actor’s death a reminder of potential danger posed by defective vehicles

A recalled vehicle is at the center of an investigation into the death of 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, most recognized for his role as Chekov in the Star Trek franchise’s theatrical reboot.

Yelchin died tragically on June 19, 2016 after his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backwards down a slight hill in his driveway, striking him and then crushing him against a brick mailbox, according to news reports. While many mourn his death, media reports have also suggested that Yelchin’s death may have been the result of a design defect that previously led to the recall of at least 1.1 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles. 

Fiat Chrysler Recall

Fiat Chrysler first announced the recall in April, which included the:

  • 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger
  • 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300
  • 2014 to 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The vehicles were said to have so-called “false park” issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigation, “[t]he affected vehicles, equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a monostable gear selector, may not adequately warn the driver when driver's door is opened and the vehicle is not in PARK, allowing them to exit the vehicle while the vehicle is still in gear.” The consequences of this defect leads drivers to think “that their vehicle's transmission is in the PARK position,” and as a result they “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.” 

When Fiat Chrysler announced the recall, it indicated that it knew of 41 injuries, 212 crashes and 308 reports of property damage related this issue with the parking control.

While the investigation into the Yelchin’s tragic death is ongoing, it is clear that defective Fiat Chrysler vehicles may pose a serious risk to the driving public.

Motley Rice has experience litigating cases involving vehicle defects, including Takata’s massive airbag recall that has affected roughly 100 million vehicles worldwide and holding leadership positions in the GM Ignition Switch Defect Litigation and the Volkswagen Emissions Fraud litigation. If you, or someone you know has been affected by Fiat Chrysler’s parking control issues, please contact Motley Rice vehicle defect attorneys Kevin Dean or Taylor Lacy by email or by calling 1-800-768-4026.