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‘Freak Accident’ That Killed Anton Yelchin May Be Due to Recently Recalled Jeep

The young actor passed away on Sunday.

Anton Yelchin in The Beaver

Over the weekend, the tragic death of actor Anton Yelchin broke the hearts of fans and friends alike, an event made all the worse by the bizarre nature of the single-car accident that killed him. TMZ, who first broke the news of Yelchin’s passing, billed the event as a “freak accident,” but more details have emerged that paint the event in an even more upsetting and confounding light.

READ MORE: What Was Your Favorite Anton Yelchin Performance? — CriticWire Survey

Auto-centric website Jalopnik reports that Yelchin died after his own vehicle, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, rolled down his steep driveway and trapped the actor against his own security gate at the bottom of the incline. As the website shares, Yelchin’s car was the same “model that Fiat Chrysler recently recalled after its unconventional gear shifter led to several documented rollaway accidents.”

Per Jalopnik, “Fiat Chrysler said in a recall notice that the shifter confusion had led to 41 injuries,” and though Yelchin’s accident is still under investigation, the site also provides a list of other accidents and near-accidents in which faulty shifters were to blame for Jeeps rolling away. Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.1 million cars in April because of confusion stemming from a ZF eight-speed shifter.

As Jalopnik reported at the time, “Unlike traditional automatic transmission shifters, the ZF shifter in Fiat Chrysler’s vehicles (similar to shifters found in other new vehicles like the BMW 320i), returns to the same position after each driver input. There’s no physical ‘park’ or ‘drive’ gear lever position, only a light that changes from D to P. In addition, there’s a warning chime if the driver-side door is open and the engine is not in the ‘park’ position,” though that didn’t provide “sufficient feedback for drivers to know what gear their cars were in.”

READ MORE: Anton Yelchin (1989 — 2016): A Career Retrospective in Photos

Horrifyingly enough, “The result was people watching their vehicles essentially just drive away…though Fiat Chrysler maintains that nothing was wrong with the cars, saying: ‘the vehicles involved in these events were inspected and no evidence of equipment failure was found.'”

If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to read some of the lovely tributes that have hit the web from some of Yelchin’s closest collaborators and friends, including directors Drake Doremus and Jeremy Saulnier.

Update: Fiat Chrysler Automotive has released a statement to TheWrap. ““FCA US extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin,” it reads in part. “The company will be conducting a thorough investigation of this tragic incident. It is premature to speculate on its cause at this time.””

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Look, I feel terrible for Anton and his family. But, as a mechanic, I have to say Mr. Yelchin broke a cardinal rule I always followed. That was to be aware of your surroundings at all times. You have to account for possibilities to a point bordering on redundancy. I never trusted machinery for a number of reasons – not the least of which was their innate ability to fail at what they were designed to do when you’d least expect them to do so.
When it comes to vehicles, I still remember – and abided by – what my parents told me not to do when I was growing up in the city. That was never to put yourself between parked cars – even ones that were shut off. I know this seems entirely as hindsight, but I urge all people to do as I stated above. It’s much too easy to be consumed with your schedule, your life, or something not having to do with the task at hand. For your own good, keep alert to your surroundings. Think of an “out” in case something goes wrong. Don’t get to the point of paranoia, just use some common sense.
Like I said, I feel badly for Anton and I don’t mean to dump on him. This is a tragedy, but it would be of service to him to learn from his mistake. I think he would want it that way.


should of used handbrake its that simple and this is what it is designed for

    Manuel Nogueira

    How do you know he didn’t use the handbrake? Were you there? Did you witness the accident? No, you didn’t. So why don’t you wait for the investigation’s findingd to be made public before making judgements? It could have been a mechanical failure, nobody knows yet. My heart goes out to his family and friends in this sad and painfull moment. RIP Anton Yelchin.

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