An owner of a Tesla Model S died after being involved in a heavy accident, with the car also catching fire – though it’s unknown at this point if the Autopilot semi-autonomous system was also involved.
The accident took place in Baarn in the Netherlands, with the car – according to local reports – veering off the road and impacting a tree. Due to the high speed of the crash, the 53-year old driver, who was alone in the car, died on the spot and was found without life when the emergency services arrived at the scene. The forces involved almost completely removed the front end of the vehicle, causing trouble for the firefighters, as there was no front axle in place and four tires on the ground – so they were unsure how to operate the wreck to recover the body without being electrocuted. “If the car was on four wheels, the fire brigade normally has no difficulty to turn off the batteries. However, this car is completely destroyed, hampering the recovery. In this situation, you never know what can happen,” commented Ronald Boer, a spokesman for the fire service.
Tesla’s Netherlands operation dispatched a team to the scene to assist – but that resulted in many hours passing until they could recover the body safely. A host of battery cells were also spilled during the crash and caught fire, firefighters had to heap soil onto the cells to make sure the fire was out. The local Traffic Analysis Police have started an investigation as the cause of the crash is still unknown. With the Autopilot system under heavy scrutiny some fingers were pointed at it – but it’s still early to know if the system was engaged or not.