Anton Yelchin Likely Driving Jeep Grand Cherokee Prior to Death
Grand Cherokee’s Gear Selector Currently Under Recall
Yesterday’s shocking news of the death of Anton Yelchin sent a shiver through Hollywood. The 27-year-old was involved in a freak accident wherein he was pinned between a brick pillar and his car, which had apparently rolled down a steep hill before trapping him. Authorities say the vehicle was in Neutral when they discovered the young actor.
Now, recent news is breaking that Yelchin’s vehicle was under recall for its confusing gear selector. The actor owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was subject to the recall that applies to 2014 and 2015 models. The problem, according to various sources, is the selector makes it difficult to see what gear is engaged at a quick glance, since it defaults to a position at the center of its travel, like a toggle switch.
Obviously, the company has failsafes in place to prevent accidental gear selection, like displays on the shift bezel and in the instrument panel to indicate which gear is selected. Additionally, a warning chime sounds and a message appears if the driver opens his or her door without selecting Park. Furthermore, a properly adjusted parking brake should be able to mitigate any accidental gear selection when at a stop. Still, an alleged 41 incidents had occurred as a result of gear confusion as of April.
Yelchin’s is the first death we’re aware of that may be related to the gear selector, and it’s sad to learn of the loss of life related to something as seemingly inconsequential as gear misapplication. There’s no indication the vehicle was faulty, and according to TMZ, the vehicle’s recall repair was never completed. The actor’s death casts a sinister shadow over the gear selector recall, underscoring Jeep owners’ need to carry out the repair and understand how to operate the vehicle’s shifter to prevent similar accidents.
For their part, Jeep and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will fit recalled vehicles with more obvious warnings and install devices that will automatically prevent rollaways in the event of accidental gear selection. Additionally, Jeep changed the design of the 2016 Grand Cherokee’s shifter, reverting to a more traditional gated PRNDL pattern.
Any death is tragic, and the entertainment industry and fans are reeling over Yelchin’s untimely passing. We sincerely hope some good may come of it if it leads to safer, more attentive vehicle operation and better automotive design.