Star Trek and Green Room actor Anton Yelchin’s tragic death Sunday morning is more than just a tragedy. It’s also somewhat confusing, as TMZ’s initial report labeled what happened to the 27-year-old performer a “freak accident.” Why? Because Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee had inexplicably pinned him to his home’s security gate, crushing him to death. No one else was driving the vehicle, and Los Angeles police don’t suspect foul play or anything of the sort, which begs the question: Why the hell did this even happen?
According to the New York Daily News, Yelchin’s “freak accident” may be related to a recall Fiat Chrysler issued for 2014 and 2015 model Jeep Grand Cherokees in April. Along with 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300 sedans, more than a million vehicles in the United States and overseas were considered eligible for free repair work. Why? Because the electronic gear shifter, or “e-shifter,” Fiat Chrystler outfitted these cars and SUVs with led some drivers to believe their car was in park when it was not. This discrepancy supposedly caused several parking errors and — in 41 reported instances — injuries when supposedly parked vehicles began rolling away of their own volition. At the time, no fatalities were ascribed to the error.
Of the 800,000 American-owned cars subject to the recall, 248,667 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured between July 16, 2012 and December 22, 2015 were included. One of these was Yelchin’s, which Los Angeles police confirmed with CBS News, Jalopnik, and other media outlets as a 2015 model. Yet the vehicle’s precise date of purchase, and whether Yelchin had it repaired following the recall, remains unknown at this time.
The official investigation into Yelchin’s death is ongoing.