The shocking death of Anton Yelchin teaches us about the importance of recalls – UPDATE

In April, FCA announced a recall for 1.1 million vehicles worldwide. They had a shifter that always got back to the center position, even in Park. And that caused many vehicles to roll away, with 41 people injured, but none killed. It was not exactly a defect, but a product characteristic to which many customers did not adapt. The solution was to enhance warnings. Besides that, if any door is open, the correction stops the vehicles even if it is not in Park. Among the affected cars are Jeep Grand Cherokee units of 2014 and 2015 model-years. One of them may be the car that pinned the actor Anton Yelchin against its brick mail box and the gate of his home. You can check the pictures of the bent gate clicking here.

Yelchin was just 27 years old and a promising actor. You may have seen in the recent Star Trek movies. He was expected at a rehearsal last Saturday, June 18. When he did not show up, his friends went to his house and found his body. The police say he has died at about 1 am on Sunday.

So far, there is no information if his Jeep Grand Cherokee was among the cars involved in the recall. Anyway, the circumstances of the accident strongly relate it to the troubled units. Why else would the car roll away? It was parked in a steep descent from the street into his house. The actor’s body was found in the outside of the gate. This leads us to think he parked in a flatter place, got out of his car, went to check the mailbox, or to enter his house by a side gate, and was hit by his Grand Cherokee.

An avoidable tragedy

This is one of those sad happenings that make us stress as much as possible the importance of recalls. If a carmaker makes a campaign to replace any part of your car, be quick to attend it. Take all necessary precautions to avoid the problem while you do not correct it. They pose palpable risks to your safety. And they can kill.

It may not have been the case with Yelchin. Perhaps the car was not part of the recall and he just forgot to select Park and to use the parking brakes. But what if he was affected precisely by the problem the recall wanted to correct? Safety risks can threaten us all, whether we are famous or anonymous people. When it kills someone most people respect and love, it makes all of us reason if it is worth postponing or ignoring a necessary action that may keep us or our loved ones alive.

 

UPDATE

Jalopnik has managed to confirm that Anton Yelchin’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was a 2015 model-year and that it was involved in the recall FCA has issued in April. Unfortunately, we have to update the numbers: the problem has injured 41 people and killed one. A famous one, the sort of death that gives cold numbers a face and a history.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.