The National Transportation Safety Board is dispatching a team to Florida to investigate a fatal crash Tuesday involving a Tesla Model S that left two high school seniors dead. The agency said it doesn’t expect, at this time, that Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system will be a part of the investigation.
The crash happened around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, when a gray 2014 Tesla Model S slammed into a concrete wall near Ft. Lauderdale and burst into flames, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Two 18-year-old high school seniors inside the car, identified as driver Barrett Riley and front seat passenger Edgar Martinez, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third occupant was transported to a nearby hospital.
Law enforcement authorities said the Model S may have been speeding at the time, when it drove off the roadway and struck a concrete wall around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Riley and Martinez were trapped inside the vehicle as it burned, Battalion Chief Greg May of Fort Lauderdale’s Fire Rescue said, according to the newspaper.
The NTSB said its team of four investigators will focus primarily on emergency response in relation to the electric vehicle fire, including fire department activities and towing operations. The agency has in the past launched investigations into electric vehicle batteries, including an examination of a lithium ion battery in a Chevy Bolt.
Tesla has butted heads relentlessly with the NTSB as of late, stemming from the automaker’s decision in March to release information about a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model X that was operating in Autopilot at the time.
In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson said the family who owned the car has been “a close friend of Tesla for many years, and this hits us particularly hard.”
“We are working to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation to the local authorities,” the statement said. “We have not yet been able to retrieve the logs from the vehicle, but everything we have seen thus far indicates a very high-speed collision and that Autopilot was not engaged.”