August 4, 2016
One of the most frustrating messages to receive is a recall notice on your vehicle. When that notice comes 7 days after your vehicle’s defect kills you, it is borderline criminal. Star Trek star Anton Yelchin, who played Pavel Chekov, met this fate in a freak accident with his recalled 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
On June 19, 2016, after exiting the vehicle, Yelchin was pinned to his security gate as his Jeep rolled away which caused his death due to blunt force trauma. The vehicle had been in neutral instead of park because of a confusing feature included in the 2014 and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee models. The joystick in these models always returns to a central position after switching gears with only a light to signify a gear change instead of having a traditional joystick that locks into several different positions.
As of late June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was aware of roughly 700 complaints about the joystick, including 266 crashes and 68 personal injuries. According to Jeep, the recall was released on April 25, 2016, but this simply explained the problem and gave instructions explaining how to tell if the vehicle was in park. It isn’t known if Yelchin saw that notice, but it is known that he did not see the June 26, 2016 recall email informing him of an update that would have saved his life.
Jeep is now updating the vehicles to have an “Auto Park” feature so that drivers cannot get confused and remain in neutral when exiting the vehicle. Sadly, they also have to deal with a wrongful death lawsuit from Yelchin’s parents. “The safety recall was way too little and way too late," their attorney, Gary Dordick said. "They should have never used this device."
If you were involved in a wreck related to an electronic gear shift, give us a call. We are taking personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits arising from these wrecks.