On Sunday, June 19th, actor, Anton Yelchin, was found by friends, crushed between his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and his home mailbox, after not arriving for rehearsal earlier that day. Yelchin, best known for his most recent role in the Star Trek movies, is said to have died within a minute of his car rolling down his Los Angeles driveway, pinning him between the car and the mailbox of his home.
Currently the investigation is ongoing into Yelchin's death but police believe that it is due to a defective electronic gear shift in his Grand Cherokee. The investigation to date shows that the Grand Cherokee began to roll down Yelchin's driveway on its own, causing the accident.
According to CNN, Fiat Chrysler has recalled 1.1 million of 2014 and 2015 vehicles, including Jeep Grand Cherokees, because the new electronic gearshift, or e-shift, made it difficult to put the car into park, drive or reverse. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that "Drivers erroneously concluding that their vehicle's transmission is in the PARK position 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."
It is important to note that Fiat Chrysler isn't the only motor vehicle company that uses this innovative shifter. The Audi A8 uses a very similar design, however Audi states that they have built in a safety mechanism that automatically activates the electric park brake if the driver tries to exit the car while it is in gear.
Fiat Chrysler however has no such safety measure. Since the release of the 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees, Fiat Chrysler has received 41 complaints regarding injuries linked to the malfunction of the shifter. The overall issue is the car rolling away on its own after the vehicle being put into park. This malfunction is occurring across the country as there have been incidents in New York, Kentucky, Oregon, California and more.
If you or anyone you know has been injured due to this faulty technology in the Jeep models, please contact our office for a free consultation.