The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that they were opening an investigation into last week’s deadly Model X crash in Mountain View, California. The NTSB said they’ll be looking into whether Tesla’s Autopilot system was engaged at the time of the crash, in addition to a post-crash fire. The NTSB investigation is the second for Tesla this year.
It took hours for responders to clear the Model X from the site of the crash, on Highway 101 near Highway 85, which is another thing the NTSB has said they will be looking into.
In a statement, a Tesla spokesperson said, “We have been deeply saddened by this accident, and we have offered our full cooperation to the authorities as we work to establish the facts of the incident.”
Tesla’s stock fell Tuesday by as much as 4.7 percent, according to Bloomberg; by 1:28 p.m. it was trading at $289 a share.
The impact caused Huang’s vehicle to catch fire, the CHP said. Moments later, an approaching Mazda and Audi hit the 2017 Tesla.
Huang was extricated from his vehicle by rescue crews and rushed to Stanford Hospital, where he died from his injuries that afternoon, the CHP said.
Officer Art Montiel said Monday that the precise cause of the crash remains under investigation. The other two motorists who hit the Tesla were not injured.
The NTSB does not investigate many highway cases, but this will be the second for Tesla just this year. From Bloomberg:
The agency is also examining a Jan. 22 accident in Los Angeles in which a Tesla Model S rammed into the rear of a fire truck parked on a freeway. In that case, the driver told authorities on the scene it was operating under Autopilot.
Fires in Tesla cars are nothing new, of course, though Friday’s incident suggests that responders are still learning how best to deal with them. According to Tesla’s own guide, to extinguish a battery fire responders should “use large amounts of water to cool the battery” and also be sure to wear respirators, since burning batteries release toxic vapors, including “sulfuric acid, oxides of carbon, nickel, lithium, copper and cobalt.”