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Elon Musk refutes initial findings from deadly Tesla Model S crash

Musk claims data logs recovered "so far" don't show Autopilot engaged during the crash. Investigators say no one was behind the wheel.

2019 Tesla Model S Long Range
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2019 Tesla Model S Long Range

There are no self-driving cars on sale today. Period.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

A crash involving a left two people dead Sunday after the car collided with a tree and caught fire, according to local NBC News affiliate KPRC 2 in Spring, Texas. Authorities say an investigation into the crash is ongoing, though the consensus so far is neither of the two men involved in the crash were driving the Model S at the time of impact. On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke out on Twitter to refute initial findings from the early investigation, as two federal agencies examine the wreck.

First responders found one of the men in the front passenger seat and discovered the second in the back seat. The seating arrangement points to  Autopilot or Full Self-Driving mode beta being enabled, though this wasn't explicitly mentioned in the initial report. Musk tweeted that standard Autopilot "would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have." 

"Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled and this car did not purchase FSD," he added.

Neither Autopilot nor the Full Self-Driving driver-assist systems are fully autonomous and both are considered Level 2 systems on the SAE scale of autonomy. A Tesla is not capable of handling driving on its own, despite the "Full Self-Driving" name. According to tweets from a local reporter, embedded above, the car failed to navigate a curve in the road and hit a tree before bursting into flames, with no driver behind the wheel to regain control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed on Monday it deployed a Special Crash Investigation Team to the incident. An agency spokesperson told Roadshow, "We are actively engaged with local law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash and will take appropriate steps when we have more information." Local police also demanded any crash data from Tesla.

Highlighting the need for fire safety in the budding EV era, local crews needed to contact Tesla to understand how to put the fire out. Firefighters used 32,000 gallons of water to get the blaze under control, according to KPRC 2.

Tesla does not operate a public relations department to field requests for comment.

Refreshed Tesla Model S has a Knight Rider steering wheel

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sean-szymkowski-headshot
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.

Updated April 20, 2021 5:40 a.m. PT

sean-szymkowski-headshot
Written by  Sean Szymkowski
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sean-szymkowski-headshot
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
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