On June 19th Star Trek star Anton Yelchin was killed in a freak accident when his Jeep Grand Cherokee was left in neutral, rolled down his driveway and pinned him against his brick mailbox. He was just 27 years old. It’s tragic and unfortunate, but it turns out this terrible tragedy may have been caused by a design flaw in the car.
Thousands of Jeep Grand Cherokees have been recalled because of a design flaw that caused them to accidentally stay in neutral when their driver’s thought they were in park. The 2015 Jeep was specifically recalled because of the e-shit transmission, which lacked the grooves traditional transmissions have and made it difficult for the driver to feel when the gears shifted in the car. The only way you could tell the car wasn’t in park was if a small light was lit and a chime went off when you opened the driver’s side door.
This is particularly tragic because Yelchin probably thought he was in park and didn’t even realize his car could be in neutral. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an upwards of 212 crashes, 308 property damage claims and 41 injuries have been caused by the Jeep’s tricky shifting mechanism.
Jeep has since reverted to the old gear shift design for 2016 models. Star Trek Beyond, Yelchin’s last film before the tragic accident, comes out in July.