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No Evidence Driver In Fatal Tesla Crash Was Watching A DVD: Police

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When Joshua Brown was killed last summer after his Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode crashed into a tractor trailer, the incident was compounded by the claim that he was watching a Harry Potter film at the time. But a new report says police found no evidence that’s true, according to The Verge.


Buried in the middle of The Verge’s rundown of what’s contained in the 179 pages from the Florida Highway Patrol’s investigation of the crash is this (emphasis mine):

According to the NHTSA report, Brown had seven seconds during which he could have taken action, either by braking or attempting to steer around the truck. He did neither. The Tesla was traveling at 74 miles per hour at the time of the crash, controlled by the cruise control which Brown had set a little more than two minutes before the crash occurred. There is no evidence in the report to corroborate [Frank] Baressi’s claim that Brown was watching Harry Potter on a video screen in the car when the crash occurred.


The source of the claim was the truck driver, and police at the time said a portable DVD player was found in the car. But a review of the investigative file obtained by The Verge doesn’t elaborate any further on the claim.

Tesla said it wouldn’t have been possible to watch a video on the Model S screen, but that didn’t deter a barrage of headlines to shy away from Baressi’s remarks.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month cleared Tesla’s autopilot mode in the crash, and the regulator didn’t order the company to issue a recall.