Did a Defective Jeep Kill Anton Yelchin? (Update)

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson

According to multiple news reports, promising young actor Anton Yelchin, known for his portrayal of Chekhov in the reborn Star Trek movie series, was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against his mailbox at his driveway security gate.

The Jeep was parked on a steep hill but found in neutral gear when he was discovered dead.

Considering recent recalls with Fiat Chrysler Automobile shifters, could a badly designed shifter have killed the 27 year old? And could this be the first death attributable to the design flaw?

FCA’s Monostable shift lever acts unlike a traditional gear shifter. When it’s shifted into park, the lever returns to the middle position, regardless of whether it was placed in park or not.

The design flaw prompted a recall that included 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees as well as 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s as affected models. At the time of the recall, 121 accidents and 41 injuries were attributed to the flaw.

The model year of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in this unfortunate incident has not been detailed by police or friends of Yelchin.

Update: CBS News is reporting the following:

Los Angeles police told CBS News the vehicle involved was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Mark Stevenson
Mark Stevenson

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  • Fie on Fiasler Fie on Fiasler on Jun 20, 2016

    I'm glad to see this being covered by TTAC. Given the recent coverage of this shifter's flaws, I wondered the moment I saw the unfortunate news yesterday if the vehicle in question was a Fiasler product. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in the court of public opinion, especially since so many Americans already tend to hold a very low opinion of the brand.

    • See 4 previous
    • @Fie on Fiasler No it's not. I have more access to new and BETTER cars than most websites do lol.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jun 22, 2016

    What a way to go. Poor Guy. I once had a Firebird start up in Drive, while the front was on jack stands. It shot out of the garage, and luckily, no one was hurt.... Between that and the scene in Phantasm, where a Hemi'Cuda Convertible is dropped on a guy working under it, I've always been super paranoid about stopping my car or working on it raised. Even in my AT cars, everyone has been taught to use the parking brakes. In a desire for product differentiation, shift knobs, a simple thing, have been made stupid. The roto dial in a recent FCA rental, or the beer tap in BMW cars....PRNDL wasn't broken, we all know it, and my Caddy click-click-clicks, as does my Acura. He was killed by a combination of inattention (and we all have two seconds where we aren't ON IT) and poor design.

  • Dave Has to be Indy 500. Many more leaders and front passes than NASCAR, and Monaco is unwatchable with the inability to pass on that circuit.
  • Jeff How did the discussion get from an article about a 56 billion dollar pay package for Elon Musk to a proposal to charge a per mile tax on EVs in California or paying increase registration on vehicles to make up for lost gas tax revenue? I thought such a discussion would better fit Matt's Gas Wars series.
  • Master Baiter Both people who bought ID.4s will be interested in this post.
  • Urlik Not a single memorable thing happened in the big three races this weekend IMHO.
  • Ajla If Goodyear makes rain tires that allow NASCAR to race in damp conditions at longer ovals (other that at Daytona and Talladega) then I promise to purchase at least four new sets of Goodyear tires in my remaining life.