Jeep recall hits home for Zephyrhills family

Mother takes action to stop dangerous roll back
Posted at 4:46 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 17:29:33-04
When Kayla Howard found out about the death of actor Anton Yelchin, it took her breath away.
“My heart sank, because I knew exactly what had happened,” she said.
About five weeks before Yelchin’s was killed, the Zephyrhills mom said she experienced the same type of incident with her own Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The Howard’s, with baby girl Campbell, were on a trip to Asheville, North Carolina.
They stopped for some quick food at a fast food restaurant.
Chad put the Jeep in park and ran inside.
But as Kayla waited in the passenger seat, she noticed the Jeep started rolling back.
She panicked, especially with Campbell strapped in a car seat.
“I ran around the back and at one time, I attempted to stop the car,” she said.
Her next move was to dive back in through the passenger side and use her hands to press the brake, stopping the Jeep before it hit the building or fell into a nearby ditch.
“I was laying there just screaming for help. Anybody. Help me, help me,” she said.
Although rattled, the Howard’s continued their vacation.
The commotion didn’t phase baby Campbell at all. She was watching a DVD player the whole time.
The couple thought they had done something wrong, until they came back home to find a recall notice waiting for them.
It turns out the new gear shifter is causing problems for thousands of owners.
The notice said “vehicles may roll away striking and injuring you, your passengers, or bystanders.”
“Initially I thought I would have to get used to it. But now we know. There’s a bigger issue with it,” said Chad Howard.
The recall notice also said repairs will be done free of charge, but  a permanent remedy for this condition is currently under development, and won’t ready until the end of this year.
“For the next six months I have to get into my vehicle everyday with knowing it could happen again,” said Kayla.
To make sure it doesn’t happen again, the Howard’s now use the emergency brake all the time.
They have an appointment at the Jeep dealer Friday.
But the ‘what if’s’ still haunt this protective mother.
“It could have easily been us that it happened to,” she said.