What kind of malevolent engineer would design an automobile gear shift that allows drivers to mistakenly presume they’ve shifted into park when in fact the car is in neutral? What kind of perverse organization would approve a gear shift design that would allow for this possibility? The mind reels.
This design flaw, implemented by the geniuses at Fiat Chrysler, is apparently what killed Anton Yelchin early Sunday morning. He thought he’d put his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee into park, but it wasn’t. And it rolled down his driveway and crushed him.
A N.Y. Times story says the flaw, which resulted in a recall earlier this year, is not just in Jeep Grand Cherokees but also Chrysler 300s and 2014-14 Dodge Chargers. When the recall was announced Fiat Chrysler said it was aware of 41 injuries related to the gear shift problem.
The story says that the affected vehicles “use an unconventional lever to shift the automatic transmission. Instead of moving to a different position with each gear, the lever returns to a center position. The driver must look at the shifter to make sure the proper gear is selected. ‘Drivers erroneously concluding that their vehicle transmission is in the park position may be struck by the vehicle and injured,’ Fiat Chrysler said in a May report to federal regulators about the problem.
In a statement released Monday, Fiat Chrysler said it “extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Yelchin.”
His family should obviously sue the shit out of Fiat Chrysler.