Honda Element runaway

I parked my 2004 Honda Element on a level surface, put the tranny into “Park”, and left the engine running, to run a quick errand. After 10-15 seconds I saw the Element slowly roll forward, toward me.

I initially thought I must have mistakenly put the tranny in “Neutral” rather than “Park” (though I NEVER put it in “Neutral”), and the vehicle was simply rolling down a slope (even though I couldn’t see any slope…)

To prevent the Element from running into my in-laws’ Ford pickup, I tried to stop the Element by pushing back against the grill.

However, it wasn’t simply rolling, it was actually “under power”, ie, it was in gear, and there was no way I was going to stop it. In fact, it pinned me against the Ford’s fender. Fortunately my wife was nearby and jumped in the Element and backed it away from me. I was left with a few bruises, but no real harm.

My wife clearly remembers having to take the shift lever from the “Park” position (which requires applying the brake and pushing a button on the side of the shift lever) to put it in “Reverse”

I have since parked in the same spot, and even with the tranny in “Neutral” it will not start rolling.

I have also tried parking on a steep hill, and determined that in “Park” the pawl defintiely does engage, preventing the vehicle from rolling.

What can be going on? Is the microprocessor that controls the tranny failing, and shifting from “Park” to “Drive”?? This seems like the worst case scenario for a microprocessor failure, from a safety point of view!

Any suggestions will be appreciated!

I never leave a running car unless the parking brake is on. That might be a good habit to get into from now on.