Local 10 News
- A Florida man died on Sunday after his Tesla Model S spun out of control and hit a tree, police say.
- According to a local news report, bystanders said they tried to rescue him but the car’s door handles did not extend.
- The Tesla was engulfed in flames when an officer arrived, police said.
- Last year a similar crash claimed the life of two teenage boys in the area. One of the victim’s parents is suing Tesla.
A south Florida man, Omar Awan, died Sunday after his Tesla Model S spun out of control — for reasons yet unknown — hit several trees, and was engulfed in flames, the police said.
They estimated that the car was traveling between 75 and 90 mph. The posted speed limit was 50.
When an officer arrived a few minutes after the crash, the car was in flames, according to the police report, and "efforts to extract the driver were unsuccessful."
"It was just a massive ball of fire. It’s not possible anyone could’ve saved whoever was in there," one bystander told Local 10 News.
According to a reporter at the scene, police said their rescue efforts were stymied when the Tesla’s retractable door handles did not extend. When asked about the door handles, a Tesla representative referred Business Insider to page 24 of the company’s first-responders’ guide, which says that if door handles do not function automatically they can be opened manually from the car’s interior.
Police also said a woman, Liliana Awan, arrived on the scene and asked if her husband was involved in the crash. She had geolocated her husband using his cellphone.
"We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy," Tesla said in a statement to Business Insider. "We have reached out to the local authorities to offer our cooperation. We understand that speed is being investigated as a factor in this crash, and know that high speed collisions can result in a fire in any type of car, not just electric vehicles."
The blue Model S was towed, but just before 5 a.m. on Monday "it reignited and caught fire once again from a ruptured battery," the report said.
Last May, two teenage boys died after their Model S, which had been traveling at 112 mph, spun out of control and crashed into a wall in nearby Fort Lauderdale. They were also trapped inside the car.
The parents of one of the victims are suing Tesla. They claim that one of the company’s service centers removed a speed-limiting device that the driver’s parents had installed in the car without notifying them. They also claim that the car is "not crashworthy" because its battery is "inherently unstable and subject to explosion and spontaneous fire."
Their lawsuit says: "The vehicle had inadequate measures to prevent a post-collision fire; to wit: The battery pack of the Tesla was not treated with intumescent material to protect and provide protection from the propagation of thermal runaway from one cell to the adjacent cells."
For Tesla, however, that crash was about the high speed.
"Our thoughts continue to be with the families affected by this tragedy," Tesla told Business Insider when asked about the lawsuit. "Unfortunately, no car could have withstood a high-speed crash of this kind. Tesla’s Speed Limit Mode, which allows Tesla owners to limit their car’s speed and acceleration, was introduced as an over-the-air update last year in dedication to our customer’s son, Barrett Riley, who tragically passed away in the accident."
This article has been updated to include the response from Tesla.
If you have any experience or information regarding Tesla or its batteries, please contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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