Anton Yelchin’s parents announced they will sue Fiat Chrysler over their son’s death in an emotional press conference.
Yelchin’s father Victor told reporters on Tuesday, “With unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families with the same tragedy.” He continued, “Anton was our only son — a remarkable human being. It’s against nature when a parent has to bury their own child.”
Yelchin’s mother Korina added, “We were always proud of him being the greatest human being — not for being a star.”
She also spoke of the support she’s received from her son’s friends. “I just got a couple text messages from London and L.A. — his closest friends — saying, ‘I love you Mama, just be strong.’ “
The Star Trek Beyond actor died of accidental blunt traumatic asphyxia after he was pinned between his car and the gate of his home in Studio City, California. Yelchin’s 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down the steep driveway. He was 27.
Gary A. Dordick, attorney for the Yelchin’s, said of the accident, “It appears that Anton went back to his house to retrieve something. He left his vehicle and was on his way out at the time, believing his vehicle was in park.”
In the wake of his death, a proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alleging the car manufacturer did little to correct a confusing gearshift design in its vehicles.
Court documents say four plaintiffs claim that there was an “unreasonable delay” in fixing what they call a “defective” gear shifter in Fiat Chrysler vehicles.
The shifter — which led to a voluntary recall of 2012-14 Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s, and 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees in early 2015 — gives no “tactile or position feedback as to whether the car has been actually placed into the safe-to-exit ‘park’ gear,'” according to the lawsuit. The suit also charges there is no safety override that automatically puts the car in park if the driver’s door is open and there is no pressure on the foot break, a common feature in other car models.
“They cannot wait for someone to be hurt or someone to be killed before they do the right thing,” says Dordick. “We hope this lawsuit will teach them a lesson.”
The attorney also claims the family received no condolences from the car manufacturer in the wake of their son’s death. “There’s been no ‘we’re sorry for your loss.’ They hired their experts and it looks like they’re prepared to fight. I think the Yelchin family is their biggest nightmare because they’re not out for money. They cannot be fought off.”
Yelchin’s parents also filed probate papers seeking control of his estate as the actor had no will.
According to court documents, Yelchin had $731,000 in equity on his Sherman Oaks home and had $641,000 in personal property.
In early July, Victor and Irina wrote a heartfelt letter in the Hollywood Reporter to express their gratitude for the public’s support and condolences.
“To all of you who have sent flowers and gifts, for your condolences and kind words and to all who came to celebrate the life our… son, Anton. We are deeply grateful for your unconditional love … He would be surprised at how many hearts and souls he touched. Thank you very much, Irina & Viktor Yelchin,” the letter read.
—Reporting by Nicole Sands