April 27, 2021, Houston, TX – On the evening of Friday April 16th a Tesla Model S crashed and burst into flames after hitting a tree in the Carlton Woods subdivision in the Woodlands. The Tesla, traveling at high speed, failed to negotiate a bend and came off the road on Hammock Dunes Place, a residential street in the upscale Houston suburb.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said that the investigation showed “no one was driving” the fully electric 2019 Tesla Model S when the accident happened. There was a person in the passenger seat of the front of the car and in the rear passenger seat of the car. One of the men was identified as Dr. William Varner, a member of the Memorial Hermann medical system. The second victim of the Tesla crash was named as 69-year-old engineer Everett Talbot. The accident has made national headlines because local officials investigating the incident say there was no one driving the vehicle.
Federal investigators with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are among those now looking into the deadly accident that killed both men.
Constable Herman said authorities think no one else was in the car and that it burst into flames immediately. He said he believes it was not being driven by a human. Police and Tesla CEO Elon Musk continue to offer conflicting accounts of how the vehicle was being guided. Harris County Constable Precinct 4 deputies said the vehicle was traveling at a high speed when it failed to negotiate a cul-de-sac turn, ran off the road and hit the tree.
It was reported that the owner of the Tesla and his friend were taking the car out for a drive, the owner backed out of the driveway and then may have gotten in the back seat only to crash a few hundred yards down the road. Witnesses watched the car burn for 4 hours as authorities tried to put out the fire. Authorities said they used 32,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames because the vehicle’s batteries kept reigniting. At one point, Herman said, deputies had to call Tesla to ask them how to put out the fire in the battery.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the following statement:
“NHTSA is aware of the tragic crash involving a Tesla vehicle outside of Houston, Texas. NHTSA has immediately launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash. 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.”
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