If New Zealand couple Brian and Mollieanne Smith died that day, it would have been the dumbest way to go.
His wife passed out and he was barely breathing after being stuck in the car for 13 hours. What the couple didn’t realize was that they were just a touch of a button away from getting themselves out.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith spent hours struggling to break out of their new Mazda 3 hatchback after realizing they didn’t have the car’s transponder with them.
The new Mazda 3 is a keyless car with a transponder– where drivers can lock, unlock, and start their cars with a touch of a button.
What the Smiths didn’t realize was that despite the car’s advanced features, it still comes with the traditional manual locking and unlocking mechanism which passengers can control from the inside of the car with, well, just a touch of a button.
So instead of honking the horn endlessly to catch their neighbors’ attention, and instead of trying to break the car’s windows by uselessly pounding on them with a car jack for many hours– which they did– they could have just simply pressed the ‘unlock’ button from the inside of the car.
They could have avoided the unnecessary near-death experience and the three-day hospitalization altogether.
The Smiths’ neighbors found them in the morning of the following day, and were immediately taken to Alexandra’s Dunstan Hospital. Emergency services told the couple that if they stayed inside the car for half an hour more, they could have been dead by then.
Realizing their dumb mistake, Mr. Smith said in an interview, “Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out … I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out].”
The Smiths blamed the salesman who sold them the car, saying that he made it seem like there was no way they could get out of their new Mazda 3 without its transponder.
General Manager for Mazda New Zealand, Glenn Harris, said that it was an industry first– that someone was trapped inside a keyless car. Harris also added that the incident did not stem from a flaw with the new Mazda 3.
“It’s not a design flaw with the car … what we have said to the network is, with new technologies, don’t forget to show customers how to use them in their entirety [and] how to override them. There is always a manual process to override them.”
As for the Smiths, they now know that they could get out of their car anytime they want to.