Fatal Tesla Crash Report Released by Texas County Fire Marshal

Earlier this month a 2019 Tesla Model S crashed in Texas, caught fire and resulted in two deceased occupants. The initial crash was erroneously said to be on Autopilot according to early media reports, later refuted by vehicle data according to CEO Elon Musk.

On Wednesday, the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office released its report on the Tesla crash, which may provide more insight into what happened.

According to the report seen by Bloomberg, the Model S ended up in “a significant front-end collision” that might have damaged the vehicle’s battery, power system or battery-temperature control systems that caused its battery pack to catch fire, wrote investigator Chris Johnson.

While the fire authority says it was unable to find out the first heat source for the Model S fire, Johnson concluded the latter was caused by the initial crash.

The report says there was “extensive mechanical damage” a “large debris field” of external car parts and components found to the west of the Model S. No data was provided regarding the speed of impact and whether airbags were deployed or seat belts used.

The fire marshal report added, the “front left wheel appeared to have separated from the suspension/steering assembly and folded inward toward the engine compartment,” which melted the tire from the heat. The front passenger wheel was separated entirely from the Model S.

The crash victims were William Varner, 59, and Everette Talbot, 69. Both were found dead when first responders made it to the scene. The fire marshal’s report detailed the positions and locations of both bodies in the vehicles. Varner was in the left rear passenger seat; Talbot was in the right front passenger seat.

On Monday, Tesla vice president of vehicle engineering, Lars Moravy, shed more light on the Model S crash during the company’s first quarter earnings call. Moravy said it was likely someone was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, as the steering wheel was found to be deformed. Autopilot was off and seat belts were unbuckled, said the Tesla vice president.

Tesla is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board and local police in investigating the crash that happened on April 17, which occurred in The Woodlands, a master-planned community of luxury homes, in Montgomery county.