Fiat Chrysler settles with family of Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has reached an agreement with the family of Anton Yelchin, following his death in June 2016.

Yelchin, who was 27 at the time of his death, was killed in an incident at his home in Los Angeles. The actor, known for his roles as Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation and Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek film series reboot, died in an accident involving his own Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US had been investigating the Grand Cherokee, along with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, regarding its unusual gear shift design. Unlike a regular automatic, where each gear has a specific position, the FCA "Monostable" shifter always returns to a centre position after a shift. This lead to several instances of drivers mistakenly shifting into a different gear than the one they'd thought – commonly putting the car into neutral rather than park.

This confusion seems to have been the cause of Yelchin's death, as the vehicle may have rolled backwards down his home's steep driveway in neutral when the actor believed it was in park. He was discovered by friends pinned against a security fence by his Grand Cherokee which was reportedly still idling in neutral.

FCA had previously issued a recall notice in April 2016 for over 1.1 million cars fitted with the Monostable shifter, with final notices being sent out around the time of Yelchin's death.

Yelchin's parents, Russian figure-skaters Victor and Irina Yelchin filed a lawsuit against FCA, accusing the company of negligence, product liability and breach of warranty.

This lawsuit has now been settled, although the terms have not been disclosed. Yelchin's publicist, Jennifer Allen, stated that the settlement money will got to the Anton Yelchin Foundation, supporting young people with debilitating diseases or disorders, in the creative arts, and towards the filming of a documentary on Yelchin's life.

By Andrew Evans

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