Anton Yelchin was just 27-years-old when he was killed in a bizarre accident involving his Jeep on Father’s Day, and now a lawsuit has been brought up against the car manufacturer.
Yelchin died after his 2015 Grand Cherokee reportedly rolled down his driveway and pinned him against a brick mailbox. The vehicle was one of over a million that were recalled due to a faulty gearshift, and the lawsuit alleges that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles “intentionally cover[ed] up fatal design flaws and deaths from the defects.”
The suit’s focus is to have the manufacturer replace the gearshift and possibly install a safety feature that would keep the car from moving if the foot brake is released.
“The safety issue is real. Well over 300 accidents have already been reported, causing dozens of serious injuries, and potentially the death of Anton Yelchin, a young Hollywood actor who was crushed to death when his own 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his drive and pinned him against his brick mailbox,” the lawsuit reads. “FCA’s unreasonable delay in fixing the defect and its warning letter was obviously too little, too late for Mr. Yelchin, and nearly a million Defective Shifter Vehicles remain in unsuspecting owners’ driveways and garages. As a result of this dangerous defect, the Defective Shifter Vehicles are ‘unsafe in any driveway’ and the value of each Defective Shifter Vehicle has diminished, and it will remain depressed even if an effective fix is eventually applied.”
Yelchin had just seen the release of his highly-anticipated film, Green Room, and was just about a month away from the release of the newest Star Trek film. The young actor was also close to his directorial debut and had several projects on the horizon, including the lead role in a Dreamworks Animation/Guillermo del Toro series for Netflix called Trollhunters. Del Toro was one of many people in Hollywood who paid tribute to Anton after his shocking death.
“Anton was a sweetheart. Absolutely a great creative partner and artist. The sweetest, most humble, delightful, talented guy you’d ever meet. Worked together for about a year. Shocked,” del Toro wrote on Twitter.
Actress Zoe Saldana, who starred in Star Trek with Anton Yelchin, posted a loving tribute to the actor on Instagram and mourned the loss of such a talented, kind soul.
“Your sudden and unexpected departure has left us all broken hearted,” she captioned an Instagram post showing a photo of the actor beaming while wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
“I woke up today feeling absolute gratitude that I had you as a friend and colleague. Your life has been cut short, but I will always tell everyone about you. You were kind, present, old souled, curious, brilliant, funny, humble, honest, and undeniably talent. Good bye Anton, it was an honor to have crossed paths with you,” Saldana wrote.
Yelchin reportedly passed away very quickly after impact in the accident–within a minute, according to the medical examiner–of blunt traumatic asphyxia. An investigation is underway as to whether the gearshift in the vehicle was indeed the cause of the accident.
“We are looking into that. The investigation is still ongoing and the traffic detectives will look at all of those factors as they would in any traffic collision investigation. So, at this time we’re not sure what caused it, but that’s something investigators are looking at,” said a spokesperson for the LAPD.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a statement after Anton Yelchin’s death, saying that owners of 2014 and 2015 models of Jeep Grand Cherokees should take special care when putting the vehicle in park.
“Last year, NHTSA initiated an investigation into the issue. Then, in April, FCA acknowledged the defect, and issued a recall at NHTSA’s urging. Until all of these recalled vehicles are fixed, owners should take extra care to make sure their car is in park and turned completely off before exiting.”
[Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures]