Anton Yelchin’s jeep model was recalled for accident-causing problem with gear shift

Julie Wiener

Anton Yelchin arriving to a screening of Dreamworks Pictures'

Anton Yelchin arriving for a screening of the film “Fright Night” in Hollywood, Calif., Aug. 17, 2011. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The vehicle that killed Russian-Jewish actor Anton Yelchin was in the process of being recalled for a problem that may have led to his fatal accident.

Yelchin, 27, who starred in the new “Star Trek” movies reboot, was found dead at his home in Studio City, California, on Sunday after being crushed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

According to The Associated Press, the jeep was part of a global recall of 1.1 million vehicles announced by Fiat Chrysler in April. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged the recall because of complaints from drivers that a problem with the gear shift made it difficult to tell whether the car was in park. When not in park, the vehicle could roll away.

In a statement Monday, Fiat Chrysler expressed condolences to Yelchin’s friends and family, but said it was premature to speculate on the cause of his crash.

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Yelchin, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, moved to the United States when he was an infant. His parents, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin, were pairs figure skaters who qualified for the 1972 Winter Olympics but were not permitted by Soviet authorities to compete for reasons that are not clear, according to a 1989 article in the Los Angeles Times.

In a 2011 interview with The Daily Beast, Yelchin said, “I don’t exactly know what that was — because they were Jewish or because the KGB didn’t want them to travel.”

Yelchin began acting in the late 1990s, when he was a child, appearing in a number of television roles. At age 13, he appeared on an episode of “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David’s HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

“The fact that it was all improv, I was so stoked,” Yelchin told The Daily Beast of his “Curb Your Enthusiasm” experience. “On screen, [Larry David is] one person, and off he’s just very quiet. I remember him sitting in the corner reading Noam Chomsky and keeping to himself.”

He added, “But I also remember making him laugh, and I felt so happy to make this comedy genius laugh out loud.”

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