File this one under “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me” and “Crisis Averted”.
Breaking news out of New Zealand reports that Brian (68) and Mollieanne (65) Smith were trapped inside a Mazda 3 inside their own garage for 13 harrowing hours. They tried everything, including honking their horn to try and get neighbors’ attention, but with the incident occurring on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night, the noise of fireworks drowned out any pleas for help.
With their owner’s manual and key fob accidentally locked outside, they were in a dire situation until finally—over a half day later—a neighbor came to their aid and freed them from their motorized confines.
So what went wrong? Did the car malfunction? Was there an inherent design flaw that Mazda missed? Nope.
Turns out our elderly couple just never tried pulling the door handle.
The misunderstanding is somewhat defensible, as the new car featured a keyless entry, and the couple believed the car simply would not work if they did not have the transponder with them. (How they managed to get into the car in the first place is beyond me.) Mr. Smith’s thinking—he said he “had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out]”—shows just how powerful a misconception can be. Thirteen hours later, he still didn’t think to question that fundamental assumption.
The situation almost had a tragic ending, as Mrs. Smith required a three-day stay in the hospital. However, both husband and wife are now doing well, and have learned a little more about their new car in the process.
Though Mazda New Zealand general manager Glen Harris said this situation was “an industry first,” Mrs. Smith felt that the story needed to be made public, to warn people of the “risks of keyless cars, particularly [for] older people inexperienced in new technology.”
Duly noted, ma’am. Duly noted.