It's an over-played trope that senior citizens are bad with technology. Its regular use as a comedic device, though, overshadows a more dire circumstance that comes when elderly citizens are paired with gizmos and gadgets they don't fully understand.

A couple from New Zealand spent the night in their new, smart-key-equipped Mazda3 after thinking they'd locked themselves in, in what The Otago Daily Times called "a series of 'Murphy's Law' events." The two thought the car wouldn't function without the key fob, which had accidentally been left outside of the car, along with the owner's manual. That, along with the combination of stress, darkness and a lack of overall information about the car nearly killed Mollieanne and Brian Smith.

After thinking they'd become trapped, the Smiths, 65 and 68, respectively, tried honking the horn to alert neighbors – it was Guy Fawkes Night, so the sound was drowned out by fireworks – and even took the Mazda's jack to a window in their attempt to escape.

When they were discovered and freed 13 hours later, Mrs. Smith was unconscious and Mr. Smith was having trouble breathing, with emergency crews telling the couple another half hour in the car would have killed them. Mr. Smith later told The Otago Daily Times he was "very methodical," but couldn't figure out how to unlock the car.

"Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out," the 68-year-old told The Times. "I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out]."

Mazda New Zealand pointed out that is not the case.

"It's not a design flaw with the car," Mazda New Zealand General Manager Glenn Harris told The Times. "What we have said to the [dealership] 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."


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