Car involved in Star Trek actor’s death was “under recall”
The vehicle that rolled down a driveway and killed Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was being recalled because the gear shifters have confused drivers, government records show.
Yelchin, 27, a rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the rebooted series, died on Sunday after his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a mailbox pillar and security fence at his home, Los Angeles police said.
The 2015 model-year Grand Cherokees were part of a global recall of 1.1 million vehicles announced by Fiat Chrysler in April, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show.
The agency urged the recall because of complaints from drivers who had trouble telling if they had put the automatic transmissions in park.
Fiat Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, said in a statement on Monday that it was investigating and it was premature to speculate on the cause of the crash. It offered sympathies to Yelchin's friends and family.
Investigators were looking into the position of Yelchin's gear shift at the time of the accident, Officer Jane Kim said. The actor had left the vehicle momentarily, but police did not say why he was behind it when it started rolling.
Yelchin's friends found him after he failed to show up for an audition early on Sunday.
Coroner's officials ruled Yelchin's death an accident after an autopsy. The results of any toxicology tests would not be known for months, coroner spokesman Ed Winter said.
Director JJ Abrams, who cast Yelchin in the third film in the franchise, Star Trek Beyond, wrote in a statement that he was "brilliant ... kind ... funny as hell, and supremely talented".
Jodie Foster, whose 2011 film The Beaver co-starred Yelchin, said: "What a rare and beautiful soul with his unstoppable passion for life.
"He was equal parts serious thinker and the most fun little brother you could ever dream of."
Gabe Klinger, who directed Yelchin in the upcoming film Porto, said: "He was a ferocious movie buff who put us all to shame.
"He was watching four or five movies every night."
Yelchin began acting as a child, taking small roles in independent films and various television shows, such as ER, The Practice, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. His breakout big-screen role came opposite Anthony Hopkins in 2001's Hearts in Atlantis.
Yelchin, an only child, was born in Russia. His parents were professional figure skaters who moved the family to the United States when Yelchin was a baby. He briefly flirted with skating lessons, too, before discovering that he was not very skilled on the ice. That led him to acting class.
"I loved the improvisation part of it the most, because it was a lot like just playing around with stuff. There was something about it that I just felt completely comfortable doing and happy doing," Yelchin said in 2011 while promoting the romantic drama Like Crazy. He starred opposite Felicity Jones.
The discipline that Yelchin learned from his athlete parents translated into his work as an actor, which he treated with seriousness and professionalism, said Klinger, the director.