Fiat Chrysler to investigate crash that killed 'Star Trek' actor

Mon Jun 20, 2016 7:50pm EDT
 
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By David Shepardson and Alex Dobuzinskis

WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said on Monday it would investigate a crash that killed "Star Trek" actor Anton Yelchin in his recalled 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Yelchin was killed when the SUV rolled away and pinned him against a fence in Los Angeles, police said on Sunday. Fiat Chrysler in April recalled more than 1.1 million cars and SUVs worldwide because vehicles may roll away after drivers exit, an issue linked to 41 injuries, 212 crashes and 308 reports of property damage, though it had no immediate fix for owners.

Yelchin died of accidental blunt force asphyxia, Los Angeles County Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter said in a phone interview Monday. The results of toxicology tests to determine if Yelchin was under the influence of any substances are not due back for at least six weeks, he added.

In a May 24 letter to dealers, Fiat Chrysler said it anticipated having the software updates required to fix the vehicles no later than July or August. The company previously had told owners it hoped to come up with a "permanent" remedy by the fourth quarter.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said late Monday in a statement it is in contact with local authorities and Fiat Chrysler "to understand all of the facts related to this tragic crash, including whether or not this was caused by the current issue under recall."

The recall was done at NHTSA's urging, which again warned owners that "until all of these recalled vehicles are fixed, owners should take extra care to make sure their car is in park and turned completely off before exiting."

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said Monday that "while waiting for a recall remedy to be developed, the predictable happened. Anton Yelchin died. How many more people will be killed or injured waiting for a recall remedy of this fatal manufacturing flaw?"

Fiat Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the company would conduct a "thorough investigation" of Yelchin's accident. "It is premature to speculate on its cause at this time," he added.   Continued...

 
Cast member Anton Yelchin poses during the photo call for the movie "Burying the ex" at the 71st Venice Film Festival September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo