Two men were killed after their ‘driverless’ Tesla sped out of control and exploded in a fiery crash.
HOUSTON – Two men are dead after a Tesla traveling in Spring crashed into a tree and no one was driving the vehicle, officials say.
The crash happened at 11:25 p.m. Friday in the Carlton Woods subdivision near The Woodlands. The car burst into flames after hitting a tree near 18 Hammock Dunes Place.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told KPRC 2 that the investigation showed “no one was driving” the fully-electric 2019 Tesla when the accident happened. There was a person in the passenger seat of the front of the car and in the rear passenger seat of the car.
Herman said authorities believe no one else was in the car and that it burst into flames immediately. He said it he believes it wasn’t being driven by a human.
Harris County Constable Precinct 4 deputies said the vehicle was traveling at a high speed when it failed to negotiate a cul-de-sac turn, ran off the road and hit the tree.
KPRC 2 reporter Deven Clarke spoke to one man’s brother-in-law who said he was taking the car out for a spin with his best friend, so there were just two in the vehicle.
The owner, he said, backed out of the driveway, and then may have hopped in the back seat only to crash a few hundred yards down the road. He said the owner was found in the back seat upright.
The brother-in-law of one of the victims said relatives watched the car burn for four hours as authorities tried to tap out the flames.
Authorities said they used 32,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames because the vehicle’s batteries kept reigniting. At one point, Herman said, deputies had to call Tesla to ask them how to put out the fire in the battery.
Authorities will perform autopsies on both men.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent KPRC 2 the following statement:
“NHTSA is aware of the tragic crash involving a Tesla vehicle outside of Houston, Texas. NHTSA has immediately launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash. We are actively engaged with local law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash and will take appropriate steps when we have more information.”
Two men killed after Tesla that may have been in autonomous driving or self driving mode didn’t adhere to a curve, slammed into a tree then burst into flames in the Woodlands, officials say. Firefighters say they had to call Tesla to figure out how to oust the blaze. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/nmhDxKeTHT
— Deven Clarke (@KPRC2Deven) April 18, 2021
Two men perished inside a Tesla Model S that was zooming along a Texas roadway with no one behind the wheel — when the car crashed into a tree and sparked a massive fire.
The smash-up happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night in The Woodlands, a neighborhood in Houston, with the blaze continuing for four hours.
One of the men was found in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat, Harris County Constable Mark Herman told KHOU 11. The pricey automobile has an “autopilot” function, though it wasn’t immediately clear if it was in operation.
“With the physical evidence and the things of that nature on the scene, that night the position of the bodies the trajectory of the impact, they are 100% certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact. They are positive,” Herman said, according to the outlet.
“And again, the height from the back seat to the front seat, that would be almost impossible, but again our investigators are trained to handle collisions. Several of our folks are reconstructionist, but they feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle.”
Officials only confirmed that one of the victims was 59 years old and the other was 69, the outlet reported.
Police said the fast-moving, fully electric Tesla was in a cul-de-sac when it failed to navigate a turn and sped into nearby woods — striking a tree, with the collision igniting the car’s batteries, reports said.
The 2019 vehicle owner’s brother-in-law said his relative had taken the car out with a spin with a friend when it lost control and crashed — with relatives watching in anguish as the flames burned for our outside the home, according to local TV network KPRC.
Firefighters pumped more than 30,000 gallons of water onto the flames before they were put out, USA Today said in a report.
When the fire was finally doused, authorities said they found the bodies inside.
Images of the aftermath show just a skeleton of the vehicle still left.
Tesla advises that motorists using its “advanced driver-assistance system” should still be prepared to take the wheel.
“Autopilot and full self-driving capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment,” Tesla says on its website.