Two men have died after a 2019 Tesla Model S veered off the road, hit a tree, and burst into flames in Spring, Texas over the weekend. No one was behind the wheel at the time, with one occupant in the front passenger seat and the other on the rear seat.
“No one was driving,” according to Constable Mark Herman of Harris County Precinct 4 when he talked to the local news outlet KPRC 2. The car, which was almost burnt to the ground, took 150,000 litres of water before the batteries would stop reigniting after four hours. It was such an issue, in fact, that the authorities tackling the blaze had to contact Tesla to ask how they could efficiently stop the batteries from burning.
According to the brother in law of one of the car’s occupants, the owner of the car had taken his friend for a ride in the new Tesla. Once in the car, the owner reversed out of his driveway himself, but while the car was moving, he’s thought to have climbed onto the back seat to show off the car’s self-driving systems. The crash took place a mere few hundred metres away from his home.
So far it’s unknown as to whether the car was in Autopilot when it crashed, but even with Autopilot engaged, the driver must be in the driver’s seat and ready to take the wheel at any time with their full attention still on the road. Of course, there’s an abundance of videos online of this feature being abused with friends showing off to each other, drivers falling asleep at the wheel, and some even getting overly well acquainted with their passengers.
Tesla and Elon Musk is yet to comment on this incident. We send our best wishes to those involved.