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April 19, 2021
SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Federal safety regulators have sent a team to investigate the fatal crash of a Tesla in which local authorities say no one was behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it has sent a Special Crash Investigation team to Spring, Texas, to look into the Saturday night crash of the electric car.
Investigators are "100% sure" that no one was driving the 2019 Tesla Model S that ran off a suburban parkway, hit a tree and burst into flames, killing two men inside, Harris County Precinct Four Constable Mark Herman said.
But they're still trying to determine whether the electric car was operating on Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system, or if the company's "Full Self-Driving Capability" system was in use.
One of the men was found in the front passenger seat of the badly burned car, and the other was in the back seat, Herman told The Associated Press Monday.
"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," NHTSA said Monday.
The crash happened just after 9 p.m. Saturday on Hammock Dunes Place in the Carlton Woods Creekside subdivision just west of The Woodlands.
Sourced from JP Valery
Firefighters and medics responded to reports of an explosion in the woods after the 2019 Tesla Model S ran off the road, authorities said.
The victims were said to have been two men who were 59 and 69 years old. However, police have not released their names.
Authorities say the men in the car had just dropped off their wives at a home in Spring and took the car on a test drive. Moments later, the calls started coming into 911.
The Tesla was traveling from a cul-de-sac on Hammock Dunes Place and did not negotiate a curve, authorities said. The vehicle crashed into a tree before bursting into flames.
"The calling party advised that they did hear a boom and then they saw a fire approximately 20 to 30 feet tall," a dispatcher said on an emergency call.
The fire raged for four full hours and required rescue workers to use about 30,000 gallons of water to eventually put the fire out because the battery kept reigniting, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office said.
The vehicle was said to be traveling at a high rate of speed, Herman said.
ABC13 spoke with a local Tesla club about the driving assistance technology that comes with these cars, and those owners said the vehicle will not even start if no one is in the driver's seat.
"You know, you're warned when you pick up your Tesla that this is just a driving assistance system. It's not, it doesn't drive yourself yet," local Tesla owner Stephen Pace said. "That's the goal that eventually they will be able to drive themselves, but today it warns you if you don't touch your steering wheel constantly."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Sourced from ABC 13
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