Two men were killed over the weekend in Texas when a driverless Tesla vehicle slammed into a tree and burst into flames, police said.
What are the details?
According to KHOU-TV, the accident occurred at approximately 11:25 p.m. local time on Saturday night in Spring, Texas, which is near Houston.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman reported that a 2019 Tesla Model S, believed to be in self-driving mode, failed to negotiate a cul-de-sac curve while driving at a high rate of speed. The vehicle then traveled off the roadway and crashed into a tree before bursting into flames.
Deputies added that it took firefighters almost four hours and more than 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames because the vehicle's batteries kept reigniting. At one point, the firefighters had to contact Tesla for advice on how to put out the fire.
"Normally when the fire department arrives, they have the vehicle fire in control in minutes, but this went on close to four hours," said Herman.
When the crew finally got the fire under control, deputies searched the vehicle and found two bodies — one on the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat. Deputies believe the victims were a 59-year-old man and a 69-year-old man.
Fiery Tesla crash leaves two men dead near The Woodlands youtu.be
Speaking with reporters, Herman stated that investigators are absolutely sure "there was no one driving" the vehicle at the time of the crash.
"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. "Our investigators are trained. They handle collisions ... they feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle."
The brother-in-law of one of the deceased spoke to KPRC-TV following the crash and indicated that the two passengers were best friends who had just gone out for a joyride.
He said his brother-in-law, who owned the vehicle, backed out of the driveway and likely hopped in the back seat, only to crash a few hundred yards down the road of the subdivision. He added that relatives watched as deputies worked for hours to put out the flames resulting from the accident.
Shortly before the accident occurred, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted new accident report data from the first quarter of 2021 allegedly showing that someone driving a Tesla with autopilot engaged is 10 times less likely to be in an accident than a driver manually operating an average vehicle.
Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle https://t.co/6lGy52wVhC— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk)1618698723.0