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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – A tragic death has officials stressing the importance of checking to see if your car is under a recall and needs to be repaired.

Last month authorities in Indianapolis pulled a car out of a frigid pond, an accident that led to the death of Anthony Burgess.

The 24-year-old’s family said he had parked the car on top of a nearby hill with his daughter Amina inside.

“He just stepped out for a second to talk to somebody,” said family member Kelly Jordan.

Investigators say 3-year-old Amina was able to kick the gear shifter out of park, causing the car to roll into the pond.

Burgess jumped in, grabbed his little girl and held her above water until a bystander came into the pond to grab her.

But Burgess, who didn’t know how to swim, went under and didn’t survive.

“She said my daddy got me out of the water but he couldn’t get out, that was something that she said,” Jordan said.

Authorities now say the 2008 Pontiac G6 was recalled four years ago for a circuit problem that could allow the gear shifter to move without applying the brake first.

Reportedly, the repair was never performed on the car.

The tragedy underscores a common problem.

The department of transportation says about a third of recalled cars on the road have yet to be fixed.

“There’s as many as 60 million vehicles that remain on the road with open recalls right now,” said Jason Levine, Executive Director with the advocacy group Center for Auto Safety.

Levine says it’s easy to find out if your vehicle is under recall.

Just go to safercar.gov and click on ‘Search for Recalls by VIN’.

There, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can input your vin number.

“Anyone with a smartphone can do it, checkout safercar.gov and see if there’s a recall on your vehicle,” Levine said, adding that doing so can save lives.

Many of the recalled vehicles on the road have Takata airbags that have yet to be replaced.

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