An investigation is continuing after two men were killed when a Tesla crashed into a tree and burst into flames – apparently while in Autopilot mode.
The accident involving a Model S happened in Texas on Saturday (April 17) at 11.25pm local time (5.25am Sunday BST), reported Click2Houston.com.
It added that the body of one man was found in the passenger seat in the front and the body of another man was found sitting upright in the back.
The 2019 model car – similar to the one pictured above – had been travelling at speed in Carlton Woods, Spring, when it failed to negotiate a bend and hit a tree then ignited.
Reports say the car burned for four hours and 32,000 gallons of water were needed to extinguish the blaze because the vehicle’s batteries continued reigniting.
Tesla ultimately had to be contacted for advice on how to put out the blaze.
Federal agencies the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are probing the fatal crash.
The accident happened just before Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted a report’s conclusions that using Autopilot in a Tesla meant the chance of having an accident was nearly 10 times lower than for an ‘average vehicle’.
He subsequently tweeted that Autopilot couldn’t have been involved or that full self-driving (FSD) had been bought.
However, it’s been shown that the system can be abused or misued by drivers.
The two people who were killed have yet to be formally identified, but KHOU-TV said they were 69 and 59 years old.
News outlets in the area quoted the brother-in-law of one of the deceased as saying the driver was with his best friend in the Tesla.
The brother-in-law was reported as saying the Model S owner reversed out of his driveway and may have moved into the back, with the crash happening after a few hundred yards.
Harris County Precinct 4 constable Mark Herman was reported by KPRC 2 as saying early investigations had shown that ‘no one was driving’ the Model S.
Tesla has been contacted for a comment.
It’s not the first time that Teslas have burst into flames – a number of incidents involving Model S vehicles happened in 2013, there was a further occurrence three years later in France, and in 2018 British TV director Michael Morris’s Model S went up in flames in LA.