The parents of Anton Yelchin, the “Star Trek” actor who died in 2016 when his SUV rolled down his driveway and trapped him against a security gate, have reached a settlement with the makers of Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A confidential settlement between Victor and Irina Yelchin and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which manufactures the Jeep Grand Cherokee that crushed Yelchin, was filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.
“Anton Yelchin was crushed and lingered alive for some time, trapped and suffocating until his death,” the lawsuit states.
Yelchin’s family attorney, Gary Dordick, and Yelchin’s publicist, Jennifer Allen, could not be immediately reached for comment. Fiat Chrysler told the Associated Press in a statement that it is “pleased that we’ve reached an amicable resolution in this matter” and that the car company continues to “extend our deepest sympathies to the Yelchin family for their tragic loss.”
“The mission of the Foundation is to empower and support young people engaged in creative arts who face career challenges due to debilitating disease or disability,” she said.
Yelchin, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, was best known for playing Chekov in the reboot of the “Star Trek” movies as well as his roles in “Alpha Dog” and “Terminator Salvation.” He was 27 when he died.
“Star Trek” fans were hit with a sense of loss upon realizing that they wouldn’t again see Chekov on screen. Yelchin’s former “Star Trek” castmate, John Cho, told The Washington Post after Yelchin’s death that he could not “begin to express how badly my heart has been broken by his passing.”
“He was a young man who was just starting to become what he was going to become,” said Cho, who played helmsman Sulu right next to Chekov on the starship Enterprise’s bridge.
Yelchin had been driving a car that came under scrutiny for its gear system. In 2016, TMZ reported, citing the Los Angeles Police Department, that when Yelchin’s friends discovered his body, they found the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee idling in neutral.
In 2016, the automotive blog Jalopnik reported that the Jeep was among one of 1.1 million vehicles that had been recalled about two months before Yelchin’s death because of a confusing gear shifter that could cause the car to roll away unexpectedly. According to former Washington Post reporter Jeff Guo:
[In 2015], NHTSA began investigating the unconventional gearstick design on these cars, which was causing crashes because drivers were mistakenly shifting to neutral when they thought they were shifting to park.
With a regular gearstick, drivers choose a transmission option (park, reverse, neutral, drive, etc.) by moving the stick into the corresponding notch or detent. Drivers can feel the stick settle into position.
But a new, different, design was used in the cars affected by the recall, which include certain recent models of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Rollaway vehicles kill about 93 people a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Yelchin’s parents in 2016 announced in an emotional news conference that they were suing Fiat Chrysler for wrongful death and product liability, during which they said Anton was their only son and “a remarkable human being.” The automaker in response claimed that Yelchin’s “misuse” of the car led to his death, according to People.
“In spite of our unbelievable grief, we decided to come here to prevent other families from the same tragedy,” Victor Yelchin said during the 2016 news conference.