Darwin denied his rightful rewards

I’m just going to leave this without any further comment

An Alexandra couple hope others can learn from their near-death experience after being trapped in their new “keyless” car in their own garage for almost 13 hours.

Confusion about operating their Mazda 3 hatchback led Mollieanne and Brian Smith to believe there was no way to get out after they got stuck inside last month.

After becoming trapped about 7pm on November 5, their attempts to escape included sounding the horn and trying to smash a window with a car jack.

Mrs Smith said it was Guy Fawkes night, and no one would have noticed the horn due to fireworks.

When they were freed by neighbours about 7.45am the next day, Mrs Smith was unconscious and her husband was struggling to breathe.

She said they were told by emergency services if they had spent another half hour in the car and they could have died.

Afterwards, Mrs Smith spent three days in Dunstan Hospital.

Mr Smith, who considered himself “very methodical”, said he could not find the unlocking mechanism.

“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 car salesperson had made it seem the car would not work without the transponder, he said.

He now knew the manual lock was the same as the inside door handle on many other vehicles.

Mr Smith said his message for owners of “keyless”cars – not just Mazda models – was to educate themselves on how to operate their car before using it.

Mrs Smith said she had decided to speak out as people needed to be aware of the risks of keyless cars, particularly older people inexperienced in new technology.

She had received phone calls from about five people reporting similar keyless-car experiences.

Mazda New Zealand general manager Glenn Harris said the report of the couple being trapped in the car in that manner was an industry first.

“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.” Mr Harris said he “completely” empathised with the couple, and said the company needed to ensure it did not happen to anyone else.


Otago Daily Times


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  • i was hoping nobody would pick this story up, it makes kiwis look like a bunch of hopeless hicks from the back of beyond.

    • I was surprised they were still allowed to drive.

      • island time

        I am surprised they admitted to their stupidity.

        • Wheninrome

          It is all about blaming someone else, it wouldn’t be their fault.

      • Betty Swallocks

        It reads as though the car wouldn’t let them ……

      • peterwn

        They were not that old – round about early baby boomer age.

  • Sally

    When I saw this on TV my first thought – was the car manual in the glovebox?

    • peterwn

      The manual was on their kitchen table. They were at least taking the bother to read it but presumably had not got to the appropriate point.

  • And yet they have passed all the necessary requirements to actually operate said vehicle on the open road. I wonder if they knew cruise control does not allow them to have a nap on a long journey.

  • luke

    How old were the couple? attempts to escape included “trying to smash a window with a car jack”. What was the car jack made of – a wet bus ticket?

    • Wallace Westland

      What I want to know is how did they get their hands on the jack without getting out of the car and opening the boot/hatch?

      • Wendy

        He managed to get the back seat down to access the boot.

    • Cowgirl

      I’m confused- it’s keyless but still switches on right? Couldn’t they have just wound the window down? I’m assuming the windows being wound up is why they “almost died”.

      • Carl

        They didn’t have the keys with them, the doors looked automatically when they hopped in it and shut the doors.

        • Cowgirl

          So it’s keyless but needs a key to operate? Makes sense.

        • who’stoblame

          They won’t lock automatically unless the car is running and put in drive. I can only assume they pushed the manual “lock all doors” feature.. Anyways, the mind boggles.

  • Wheninrome

    It wasn’t a suicide attempt gone wrong was it?

  • I understand they may have been Irish; oh, just a minute, that triggers and apology now doesn’t it . . .

    • burns_well_eh

      Well I’m Irish, and even I know it’s “an apology”…

  • STAG

    Cell phone, Prolonged Horn Blast (like the sort I use to let you know in that car in front of me you really have been wrong about cutting me off, nothing less then 20secs) or boot release and climb though?

  • Cadwallader

    MmmmmH I am not sure how accessible new technology is. I bought an i-phone 6 this week and I took 5 hours to get it to operate through the Bluetooth option in my car. In fairness to this couple a first glance at new technology can be confusing/daunting.

    • stanace

      I have to agree, or alternatively, I’m too old to keep up.
      I bought a very up market, but second hand laptop, which I am posting on. It took me 2 hours to find the button to start it. Had to go on Google to see a photo of the keyboard.
      My computer classmates laughed at the story.
      3 weeks later I had reason to take it to computer class, and 3 of them could not find the button.
      I think we are being too critical here, I go past shops every day with stuff in them that I have no idea what the heck they are used for, and happily have probably no need for.

  • Imogen B

    In terms of The awards, and bout of Darwinism that in unsuccessful in raising the average of the gene pool is called an honourable mention.
    I think this qualifies.

  • Wendy

    The manual unlock switch is exactly where the central un/lock button is in the majority of cars.

    I struggle to know what to say to this one.

    • Cowgirl

      I don’t even know how they got into this situation. They thought the car wouldn’t work without a transponder, but got in the car and shut the doors without it. Where were they hoping to go with a car that wouldn’t operate? Also presuming the transponder unlocks the car, how did they even get in the car without it?
      And once ‘locked’ in the car, they didn’t try all the obvious places to unlock it?

      • stephen2d

        Maybe they went in to…hm, baptise the car?

    • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

      I saw this on TV and sat there gobsmacked. How could someone be so dense? I feel sorry for them as they are now the couple who nearly died in their car when they couldve gotten out in seconds.

  • Mountie

    What made them think that a car manufacture would build a vehicle that you could not get out of without the keys!

  • JC

    If this was the US I’d automatically assume a million dollar lawsuit would follow and a safety instruction would follow.. like this one:

    “If you want your boomerang to come back, first you’ve got to THROW IT”.


  • FredFrog

    I’m thinking that this pair is too stupid to own a car, and would be a menace to other road users. However, we may be safe for a little longer, as it would probably take them a few weeks to figure out how to open the garage door so they could get it out on to the road.

  • Tom

    Mazda3s have manual locks inside the car, next to the handles. They just decided that only the fob would allow them to unlock the doors. Wow, just wow

  • virtualmarknz

    The problem with referencing Darwin is these two are old enough that they’ve already bred. Their genes are already out there in the wild in a new generation.

  • virtualmarknz

    Note: These people also vote.

    • Vaughan


      • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

        NZ first.

    • I.M Bach

      While they may be eligible that doesn’t mean they know how it’s done.

  • Woody

    I discussed this today with my daughter who has a keyless entry car. I told her to give me her keys and I would lock her in – even before the door was shut she said “but there is this button here to use” and clicked it a couple of times.

  • Tom

    They live in Alex, nough said.

  • I.M Bach

    The Stephen King story about ‘Christine’, the possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury, just wouldn’t be the same if it featured a Mazda 3 hatchback, would it?

  • Gekko

    The best Whaleoil headline I’ve read for a while

  • 2rotorbro

    How’d they get a licence to share the same oxygen I breath.

  • KiwiKaffir

    Titter ……

  • Cadwallader

    What manual? Neither the vehicle nor Apple provide manuals.

    I am with you Stanace perhaps too old to remain cutting edge, at least at our age we know the correct usage is “would’ve” or “would have” rather than Mr Hart’s corruption; “would of.”