New Zealand couple manages to lock themselves in keyless car for 13 hours
"Murphy’s Law" events overpowered common sense and were nearly fatal.
According to New Zealand’s Otago Daily Times, a series of unfortunate events led to Alexandra, New Zealand, residents Mollieanne and Brian Smith suffering through a 13-hour-long ordeal in the front seats of their Mazda3 hatchback last month. The couple apparently got into their car without the car’s wireless key fob and somehow managed to lock the doors—and then couldn’t figure out how to get out.
The Times explains that the couple’s inability to unlock the doors stemmed from "a combination of stress, night-time, and what they called a lack of information from a car salesperson."
Although the pair tried to summon aid by sounding the car’s horn and tried to break the car’s windows with the spare tire jack, they ended up stuck in the Mazda from about 7:00 in the evening of November 5 through about 7:45am the next morning. Neighbors found the couple in dire straits, with Mollieanne Smith unconscious and her husband Brian having difficulty breathing. Mrs. Smith required a three-day hospital stay to recover.
All of the Mazda3 hatchback models sold in New Zealand, even the base model, are equipped with push-button starting and keyless entry via a radio-equipped key fob. In spite of the fob and the lack of keys to put into an ignition, the door lock mechanism on the Mazda3 isn’t any more or less complicated than on countless other modern vehicles. The car has power door locks that can be operated by switches on the doors’ arm rests; there’s also a mechanical lock/unlock switch integrated into the door handle itself.
However, the door doesn’t automatically unlock when the interior handle is pulled—and therein lay the problem for the Smiths. According to the Times, the couple had been led to believe by their Mazda dealership that the key fob was the only way to unlock the doors; this mistaken impression, coupled with the fact that the vehicle was parked in their garage and that it was apparently too dark to clearly see the interior switches, led to the nearly fatal overnight stay.
"Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out," Smith is quoted as having said. The Times also says that since going to the media with their story, the couple has been contacted by "about five" other people who have had "similar keyless-car experiences."