Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office releases report into deadly Houston crash

Tesla crash Houston
Image via KPRC2 News

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office has released their official incident report regarding the highly publicized Tesla Model S crash earlier this month that left two people dead.

One of the attending officers, Investigator J. Benavides, says in the report he received a call about the accident at 9:44pm. When he arrived on scene at 10:15pm, he observed the 2019 Model S had “sustained a significant front-end collision” with a tree. He suspects the collision may have damaged the “battery, the power distribution systems, or the systems associated with battery cell temperature regulation.”

Although unable to determine the first heat source, Benavides ultimately concludes the fire was “accidental under the United States National Fire Incident Reporting System.”

Tesla crash Houston Hammock Dunes

As initially reported by local authorities, the report says neither of the two occupants were found in the driver’s seat after the crash. The owner of the vehicle, William Varner was found in the left rear passenger seat with his upper torso “in a rear-leaning position, with both arms rolled back and in a pugilistic position.”

The other occupant, Everette Talbot, was found in the right front passenger seat with his upper torso “in a forward leaning position, with both arms rolled forward.”

The report does not mention the speed the Model S was travelling at, but does say there was a “large debris field” in the surrounding area. Benavides also states in the report the front left wheel appeared to have “separated from the suspension/steering assembly and folded inward towards the engine compartment.” The front right wheel had separated from the vehicle entirely, suggesting a high-speed impact.

No mention of whether Autopilot, or any other driver-assist feature, was active at the time of the crash.

Earlier this week during the Q1 2021 earnings call, Tesla reasserted that Autopilot was not active at the time of the crash. It was also stated that based on an initial investigation with local authorities, the steering wheel was deformed, indicating a high probability that someone was behind the wheel at the moment of impact.

You can read the full report here.

Source: Bloomberg

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