The 27-year-old actor’s body was found Sunday (June 19) pinned against an iron gate at the end of his driveway by the 4,900 pound vehicle.
It appeared as if the car was unoccupied when it rolled backward down the steep driveway of Yelchin’s Studio City, Calif. home. Yelchin may have been trying to jump into the vehicle to stop it when he was caught and crushed.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said today that Yelchin died from “blunt traumatic asphyxia.” He said the death was ruled “accidental.”
Police, however, are continuing their investigation to determine whether a design defect in the 2015 Jeep played a role in the accident.
Fiat Chrysler in April recalled more than 1 million cars, including the same model SUV as Yelchin’s, to address a faulty gear shift design.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the problem after receiving complaints. The design made it difficult to tell if the car was actually in gear. In some cases vehicles inadvertently “rolled away” after the driver exited.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson released the following statement to People:
“The investigation is still ongoing and the traffic detectives will look at all of those factors as they would in any traffic collision investigation. So, at this time we’re not sure what caused it, but that’s something investigators are looking at.”
The coroner also conducted toxicology tests on Yelchin, which are expected to be released in six to eight weeks.
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