A couple in New Zealand were stuck inside their car for 13 hours after they left their wireless key fob outside and managed to lock themselves in.
Arstechnica reports the couple, Mollieanna and Brian Smith, 65 and 68, suffered the ordeal in the front seats of their Mazda3 hatchback last month.
The Otago Daily Times explains that a “series of unfortunate events” and “a combination of stress, night-time, and what they called a lack of information from the salesperson” conspired against the pair.
The Smiths became trapped at 7pm on November 5, according to the paper. It was Guy Fawkes Night and there were fireworks exploding outside, so nobody heard them sound the horn to alert neighbours to their distress.
Mazda3 models sold in New Zealand are equipped with “push-button starting and keyless entry via a radio-equipped key fob,” writes Arstechnica.
Of course, the vehicles are all fitted with manual mechanisms too — but the Smiths say they weren’t told of that and, despite searching for them during the incident, couldn’t locate them.
They’re under the armrests and to make matters worse, the car manual was inside the house.
The couple were freed by neighbours the next day at around 7.45am — Mrs Smith was found unconscious and her husband was suffering from breathing difficulties, the Otago Times adds. Apparently they were told by emergency services that another half an hour could have led to death.
Mr and Mrs Smith decided to report the incident to the media as they feared other “older people” might also be inexperienced with the technology. Mr Smith told the paper: “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 mindset that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out].”
The Otago Times says the country’s general manager for Mazda, Glenn Harris, said the report was an industry first and added that it’s not a design fault.
However, Mr Smith says other people did get in touch with them following the story who had endured similar experiences.