'Star Trek' has been a pop culture phenomena for over fifty years. The original series that aired in 1966 as well as the subsequent Star Trek series and movies have captured the hearts and minds of generations of science fiction fans. In 2009, Star Trek was rebooted, with new actors being cast in the iconic roles of beloved characters like Captain Kirk and Spock. Anton Yelchin was among the the new crop of actors chosen to star in the new films. He was cast as Pavel Chekov, the Enterprise's navigator, taking over the role originated by Walter Koeing. The new Star Trek film and its sequel, Into Darkness, introduced the tales of Captain Kirk and his heroic crew to a whole generation of filmgoers. The third movie, Star Trek Beyond, just premiered at the end of July. But sadly, it do so with Yelchin.
The actor was tragically killed a month prior the film's opening day when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backwards, pinning him between the car and a "brick pillar and a security fence, causing trauma that led to his death." The accident after Anton had gotten out of the car. He was behind the vehicle when it started rolling backwards. He was found later that day by friends after they came looking for him because he hadn't showed up to rehearsals. His driveway had a steep incline and TMZ reported that the Jeep struck with such force that "it bent a metal security gate." Yelchin "was pronounced dead at the scene."
The Jeep Grand Cherokee that Yelchin owned is a part of a recall conducted by Fiat Chrysler. The car was recalled because "[m]ore than 100 crashes have been reported due to a gear selector problem that caused confusion about whether the car was in park." The company sent out a warning to customers in May that "advised drivers to double check that the car is in park, and that the parking brake is on before exiting." The gear shift in the Jeep differs from other cars. According to CNN, "[u]nlike most gear selectors, which are in forward or back positions depending on whether the car is in park, reverse, neutral or drive, these cars' gear selectors always return to the upright position after a driver changes gear. If a driver gets out of a car when it's in neutral, the vehicle could roll away."
According to the actor's parents, Yelchin received the recall notice a week after he died. They have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler as well as the manufacturer of the gear shift, ZF North America. They are seeking punitive damages from the company. Punitive damages are designed to punish defendants for wrongful conduct and deter future bad behavior. ABC stated that the "[t]he AP reported that Fiat Chrysler is expediting its recall of the vehicle." Fiat Chrysler did send its condolences to Yelchin's family after the actor's death, but has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
The cast members wore black Starfleet delta badges in remembrance of Yelchin at the movie's premiere and a moment of silence was observed in his honor. The movie was also dedicated to him, as well as fellow Stark Trek cast member Leonard Nemoy who passed away last year.