About 10 months ago, an 18-wheeler semi-truck drove over the top of a Tesla Model S which had Autopilot activated, in an attempt to merge across all four lanes to make it to an exit (via Reddit), in Tampa Bay, Florida.
When the Model S driver (Reddit user ‘quarm813’) tried to swerve to the right upon seeing the semi, the truck simply cut through the car with a rear bar that hangs down, and effectively drove off without ever noticing it had hit the Tesla.
The passengers included the driver, his daughter, and his daughter’s service dog. While the service dog managed to jump out of the car and was later found, the driver’s hand was folded back and broken with the wrist bones sticking out. The driver’s daughter only required a few stitches.
After the accident, the driver was also unable to get out of the seatbelt and ended up having to ask a bystander to cut him out of the belt. First responders used a Mansfield Bar to cut the vehicle to extract both occupants, who were able to walk away without serious injuries.
Tesla with Autopilot Engaged Nears 10x Lower Chance of Accident Than Average Car: Musk https://t.co/tLbT1pLrZ9
— TeslaNorth.com (@RealTeslaNorth) April 18, 2021
Since the accident, the driver has managed to have his hand re-attached, and he said the feeling of having it is “getting less alien like every day,” also including that “when it was first reattached it didn’t move on its own.”
The accident caused nerve damage to the driver’s hand, and will require a few more surgeries. In addition, the thumb and first two are once again functional, though the pinky and second to last finger aren’t, so he will likely have them removed entirely.
“Yes we were on Autopilot. The 18 wheeler merged on from the left lane and cut across 4 lanes to make an exit,” said Reddit user ‘quarm813’.
“When I [saw] it coming I tried to swerve to the right. That is when the car was caught with the bar that hangs down in the back of the 18 wheeler and it cut through the car,” added the user.
“The bar hit me in the face also broke some teeth and [impaled] into my shoulder. So the reason I’m alive is I guess I was leaning an inch to the right. Had I been [anywhere] else in the seat and the bar would have hit me in the mouth,” said the Reddit user.
As for the driver’s daughter’s service dog? “My staff searched the highway for about 5 hrs and found him,” said ‘quarm813’. “His leash has got tied into a fence and was just standing there waiting for us completely unhurt,” explained the user.
The driver of the truck originally left the scene, but was eventually caught and is currently claiming not at fault for the accident. Video of the accident “can’t be released yet” says the Reddit user.
The Model S owner also added he is friends with Rich Rebuilds from YouTube, adding validity to the story. “Rich is a great friend of mine and they opened [their] 2nd electrified garage. In my town because of me. So they know the car. Rich and the guys are building an Electric range rover defender for me now they just posted it on their Instagram,” said the user.
While Tesla’s Autopilot has been scrutinized in recent months for its role in certain accidents, the driver also defended the system saying that it was unlikely that he would have seen the semi even without Autopilot activated.
Zachary Visconti is a writer with a knack for electric vehicles, technology, and climate change. Currently residing in Fort Collins, Colorado, Zach loves his partner, his cat, and a good cup of coffee.