Anton Yelchin dead: Jeep model recalled due to transmission issues
Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee model that had recently been recalled due to a design flaw that made it possible for the vehicle to roll after being parked, PEOPLE confirms.
Yelchin’s body was found Sunday pinned between the car and the gate of his home in Studio City, California, after the 27-year-old’s vehicle rolled backward down the steep driveway, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
The spokesperson says the car was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles official tells PEOPLE that 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, manufactured between July 16, 2012 and Dec. 22, 2015, were recalled by the company in April after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated a possible transmission defect.
The vehicle’s gear-shift design makes it difficult to tell what gear the vehicle is in, according to a report from the NHTSA.
In the report, the NHTSA said that “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.”
In a statement, Chrysler officials say it is too early “to speculate on the cause of this tragedy.”
“FCA US extends its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin. The company is in contact with the authorities and is conducting a thorough investigation.”
The L.A. County Medical Examiner’s Office told PEOPLE that it’s believed Yelchin’s vehicle was not properly parked before he walked behind the car.
No cause of death has been determined yet, but preliminary results were that Yelchin had head and chest injuries.
As of April, the automaker was aware of 41 injuries potentially related to the transmission defect, the company said in a statement.
However, “the vehicles involved in these events were inspected and no evidence of equipment failure was found.”
The company official says that the vehicles have “warning chimes” and lights that let the driver know what gear the car is in.
“However, investigation suggested these measures may be insufficient to deter some drivers from exiting their vehicles without selecting ‘park.'”
The company said it would enhance warnings and “transmission-shift strategy” on the vehicles, according to the statement.