Tesla Model S Driver Dies In Florida Crash After Car Burns, Doors Wouldn’t Open (Updated)

Witnesses say speed was a major factor in the crash

Tesla Model S Driver Dies In Crash After Car Burns, Doors Wouldn't Open
[Photo: Daniel Dobb, via screengrab]

Editor’s Note: The specifics of this particular crash don’t necessarily suggest the Model S is more at-risk than any other car to catch fire. It seems the investigation is still ongoing, so it is wise not to draw conclusions about Tesla or the Model S’ safety without further conclusive evidence from similar incidents.

Update 2/26/19: The driver was identified as Omar Awan. The accident took place at approximately 4:30 PM Sunday afternoon on South Flamingo Road near Fort Lauderdale. Police say Awan was traveling between 75 and 90 mph at the time of the crash.

A Florida driver died Sunday after a Tesla Model S hit a tree and caught fire.

A driver of a 2016 Tesla Model S was killed when their Tesla Model S lost control, struck a tree, and burst into flames Sunday. Davie, Florida police spokesperson Vivian Gallinal said a nearby officer and attempted to break the car’s window, but couldn’t get the driver out, according to the Miami Herald. According to witnesses and the Herald report, the door handles were inoperable after the crash and the airbags didn’t deflate.

Witnesses said the car was traveling over 75 mph at the time of the crash. According to an Electrek report, one witness said: “We were there. My husband tried to break the window out. The airbags didn’t deflate after the crash and trapped the person inside. We couldn’t even see inside the car because all of the bags filled the car. The doors couldn’t be opened.” Several people kept trying to find ways to extract the driver, but ultimately failed to do so as flames overtook the car.

Tesla’s response

Tesla says in its first responder guide that the door handles should open in the event of an accident. That makes it easier to stage any rescue. If that fails, responders should break the window to get inside. The company also issued a statement on this accident:

“We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy. 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.”

This certainly was a tragic story, and the fire seems to have come about as a direct result of a high-speed collision. While other Tesla models have reportedly caught fire, there’s no conclusive data suggesting the Model S is at higher risk than any other vehicle.

Davie police has not yet released the name of the driver. However, a similar crash happened in Fort Lauderdale back in May. In that crash, authorities say the Tesla Model S was traveling at 116 mph.

At any rate, this serves as a grim PSA to drive safely at all times. Obey the speed limit and don’t drive erratically, especially with other vehicles and people around.