The Oklahoman

NTSB: Driver was behind wheel at time of Texas Tesla crash

- Tom Krisher

DETROIT – A driver was behind the wheel when a Tesla electric car crashed and burned last April in Houston, killing two men, neither of whom was found in the driver’s seat.

The U.S. National Transporta­tion Safety Board announced the findings in an investigat­ive report released Thursday on the April 17 crash on a residentia­l road in Spring, Texas.

Although first responders found one man in the back seat and the other in the front passenger seat, the NTSB said both the driver and a passenger were in the front seats with belts buckled at the time of the crash.

The agency said the car was traveling up to 67 mph in the five seconds leading up to the crash.

The investigat­ion is continuing, and the agency is still looking into the use of Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist system, whether the men could get out of the car, driver toxicology tests and other items.

In a preliminar­y report released in May, the NTSB said home security camera footage showed that the owner of the Tesla Model S got into the driver’s seat of the car shortly before the deadly crash.

Investigat­ors found that the steering wheel had been damaged by an impact, presumably from the driver.

The crash occurred around 9:07 p.m. on Hammock Dunes Place, a two-lane residentia­l road. Both the 59-year-old owner and the 69-year-old passenger were killed.

Previously the NTSB said the 2019 Model S went off the road on a curve, drove over a curb, hit a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree.

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