The brake pedal activates the stop light switch; In doing so it also sends a signal to the actuator to release the shifter. Would have to check the brake switch and/or the actuator. Try to turn the key 1 click, not to run (when the dash lights come on), And see if it will shift out of park to neutral. If it does start the car then into gear. Needs to be checked to see which one is the problem. Floor or column shift? WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR SON'S CAR?