NTSB Investigates Deadly Tesla Crash in Florida

By Ryan Beene | May 10, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S that burst into flames after colliding with a concrete wall in Florida on Tuesday, the agency said, announcing its fourth active probe into a collision involving vehicles made by Tesla Inc.

Two people were killed in the accident, and a team of four NTSB investigators will look into it. The agency does not anticipate that Tesla’s Autopilot package of driver-assistance technologies will be part of the new probe, according to a press release. Investigators will primarily focus on how firefighters and others responded to electric car’s battery fire caused by the crash, the agency said Wednesday.

Speed is believed to be a factor in the accident, in which a 2014 Model S “immediately caught on fire, becoming fully engulfed in flames” after driving off a roadway and hitting a concrete wall, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said in a press release Wednesday.

“NTSB has a long history of investigating emerging transportation technologies, such as lithium ion battery fires in commercial aviation,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a statement. “The goal of these investigations is to understand the impact of these emerging transportation technologies when they are part of a transportation accident.”

Passenger Ejected

The Tesla’s driver and front-seat passenger were pronounced dead at the scene, the police said, adding that a rear-seat passenger was taken to a hospital after being ejected from the vehicle upon impact.

The inquiry is the NTSB’s fourth active investigation of Tesla vehicle crashes and the third of a crash-related fire. The agency is probing the March 23 crash of a Model X that caught fire after hitting a highway barrier in Mountain View, California, that killed the vehicle’s driver. Another Model X SUV that caught fire after crashing into a garage in August 2017 is also under investigation.

An accident involving a Model S that ran into a parked firetruck on a freeway near Los Angeles in January is also under investigation.

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