Anton Yelchin Killed by Jeep That May Have Been Included in Roll-Away Recall

2014 and 2015 Grand Cherokees had been voluntarily recalled for roll-away risk.

June 20, 2016, 3:52 PM

— -- The car that killed "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Los Angeles Police Department has confirmed to ABC News.

ABC News has learned that this model was recently included in a voluntary safety recall for its roll-away risk after drivers were injured when they mistakenly thought they had shifted their car into park.

Yelchin, who was best known for playing Chekov in the new "Star Trek" franchise, was killed by his own car early Sunday when it rolled backward down his steep driveway and pinned him against a brick mailbox pillar and security fence, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Police said the 27-year-old rising star had exited his car.

His publicist confirmed his death to ABC News.

The Los Angeles coroner's office ruled Yelchin's death an accident today, citing the cause as blunt traumatic asphyxia.

Last August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into 2014 to 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured from July 16, 2012, to Dec. 22, 2015, after receiving 14 complaints from drivers alleging the vehicle had rolled away after they thought they had shifted it into park.

After the investigation, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which manufactures the Jeep Grand Cherokee, issued a voluntary recall in April for 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

According to a safety recall report from the NHTSA, the Grand Cherokee is equipped with a monostable gear shifter. The shifter does not slide forward or backward like a conventional gear shifter; instead, the shifter always returns to the center position after the gear is selected, according to Mopar, FCA's parts, service and customer care organization.

As a result, the NHTSA report stated that FCA determined that some drivers "erroneously concluding that their vehicle’s transmission is in the park position may be struck by the vehicle and injured if they attempt to get out of the vehicle while the engine is running and the parking brake is not engaged."

According to the report, FCA determined that not having "an additional mechanism to mitigate the effects of driver error in failing to shift the monostable gear selector into park prior to exiting the vehicle constitutes a defect presenting a risk to motor vehicle safety."

Also included in the recall were the 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and the 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300, both of which are equipped with the same monostable gear shifter.

It has not been determined whether this defect was the reason the vehicle rolled into Yelchin.

FCA expressed its "most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin" on Monday. In a statement to ABC News, Jeep's parent company said it was "conducting a thorough investigation" into the accident, adding that "it is premature to speculate on the cause of this tragedy."

Yelchin was on his way to meet friends for a rehearsal when the accident happened. After he didn’t show up, his friends went to check on him and found him dead by his car.

Director J.J. Abrams, who directed Yelchin in the rebooted "Star Trek" franchise, remembered the actor in a statement on Twitter, writing, "You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough."

— Bad Robot (@bad_robot) June 19, 2016

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