By now, our readers have probably heard of the tragic death of the actor Anton Yelchin on June 19. Yelchin, perhaps best known for playing Commander Chekov in the most recent Star Trek films, was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee suddenly rolled down his driveway and crushed him. He was 27.
What has not been widely publicized is that Yelchin’s Grand Cherokee was subject to a recall related to its gearshift because of hundreds of similar rollaway crashes. That recall took on extra urgency in the wake of Yelchin’s death, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported on June 22 that Fiat Chrysler, which owns Jeep, announced a recall in April, which affects 1.1 million vehicles. The recall was not being carried out with any particular urgency. Then came Yelchin’s fatal accident. Three days later, Fiat Chrysler announced it was speeding up its recall efforts by notifying owners of recalled Grand Cherokees about scheduling software repairs to help users handle the confusing gearshift mechanism.
Though the company did not mention Yelchin, the message appears to be a reversal of an earlier statement, in which the automaker said a fix would not be available until July or August. Prior to Yelchin’s death, the shifter problem had caused dozens of injuries, the Times reports.
Whether you are a movie star or an average consumer who has relied upon and auto manufacturer to deliver a safe product, no driver deserves to be injured or killed by a defective car or truck. Automakers that produce defective vehicles and allow cars and trucks with serious defects to be sold to the public should be held financially accountable for their negligence.