Tesla Car Without a Driver Crashes, Kills Two

Tesla vehicle crash during autopilot kills two passengers in Harris County, Texas.

By Michelle Jones

Dean Mouhtaropoulos | Getty Images

This story originally appeared on ValueWalk

Another Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) vehicle has crashed, and this time, officials say there was no driver. The fiery crash killed both passengers, and according to KHOU-TV, one person was found in the front passenger seat, while the other was found in the back seat.

Tesla Crash Kills Two

Although Harris County constables are certain that no one was driving the Tesla Model S, the news outlet adds that it's unclear whether the Autopilot system was being used at the time of the wreck. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told the TV station that, based on the positioning of the bodies after the crash, they are confident that no one was driving the car when it happened.

Deputies told KHOU that the Model S was driving fast and went off the road at a turn, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames. The wreck happened on Saturday. After firefighters put the fire out, deputies found two bodies in the vehicle. The names have not been released yet, but one of the passengers was reported to be 69 years old, while the other was 59.

Herman said it took firefighters four hours and over 30,000 gallons of water to put out the fire. Officials said the Model S's batteries kept reigniting, and he added that deputies called Tesla to ask how to extinguish it. The automaker publishes details about its vehicles for first responders, including details about where high-voltage lines are located.

Tesla has not responded to news outlets that contacted it for a statement.

Other Tesla Crashes Under Investigation

Federal highway-safety investigators are looking into several accidents involving a Tesla in which Autopilot might have been engaged. In some of those crashes, the Tesla vehicle drove under a tractor-trailer.

Tesla has warned drivers repeatedly that its Autopilot isn't an autonomous-driving system and that they must watch the road and always be prepared to take control of the car. However, the National Transportation Safety Board said last year that the system's design lets drivers stop paying attention to the road and doesn't restrict where it can be used.

Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted the automaker's safety report. During the first quarter, there was one accident for every 4.19 million miles with Autopilot engaged. Musk added that Tesla's Autopilot is now approaching a 10 times lower chance of an accident than with a standard vehicle.

Tesla is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders' families.

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