Wednesday, June 22, 2016

STAR TREK Actor Anton Yelchin dies at the age of 27

The rebooted “Star Trek” franchise lost a core member of its cast Sunday, June 19, when 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, who portrayed the starship USS Enterprise’s navigator Pavel Chekov, was found dead in his Los Angeles home early in the morning. He was a victim of a “freak accident” involving his car.

A Los Angeles Police investigation covered by CNN reported that Yelchin, on the way to an early morning band rehearsal, had stepped out of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and moved to the gate of the enclosed driveway of his Studio City residence. LAPD spokesperson Jennifer Houser stated that while standing behind his SUV, the vehicle suddenly rolled backward, pinning the actor against a security fence and a brick mailbox pillar, crushing him to death by “blunt traumatic asphyxia”, or cutting off his breathing. When his friends from the rehearsal realized that he was late, they went to his address and discovered Yelchin trapped between the pillar, fence, and the Grand Cherokee with engine running, already lifeless.

Said friends notified the authorities and informed Yelchin’s family about his death. The actor’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to a report by BBC News, has been included among several other car models that were part of a recall order to their manufacturers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last April 2016. All the vehicles in question use a particular electronic gear shifter that does not go – or would not remain – in the “park” position if the engine is running, even when purposely set by their drivers. Consumers reported leaving their car engines running while setting their gears to park, only for their vehicles to roll away on their own. Some 41 injuries have been reportedly come about because of this issue.

Fiat Chrysler, which owns Jeep, had already recalled 1.1 million units of the 2014 and 2015 Grand Cherokees, like the one Yelchin drove and ultimately caused his demise. They have thusly extended their “deepest sympathies” to the actor’s family and friends. They have also been in touch with the NHTSA regarding a federal investigation on Yelchin’s passing. 

On the entertainment sector, cast and productions members of Paramount Picturesreboot “Star Trek” film series have expressed their condolences on Twitter and other social media. Paramount itself released a statement regarding his death: “As a member of the Star Trek family, he was beloved by so many and he will be missed by all. We share our deepest condolences with his mother, father and JJ Abrams, director of the first two reboot “Trek” movies and producer of July’s upcoming “Star Trek Beyond”, Tweeted a photo of a handwritten condolence note saying, “Anton, you were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough.”

Born in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1989, Anton Yelchin’s family sought political asylum in the United States when he was six months old. He started his showbiz career as a child actor, eventually turning out impressive and critically acclaimed performances in films such as “Like Crazy” and “Alpha Dog”, before being tapped to play Ensign Chekov in the “Star Trek” movie reboot.

Star Trek Beyond” hits theaters July 22, and will likely be dedicated to Yelchin’s.

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