2 dead in Tesla crash after car ‘no one was driving’ hits tree, authorities say

Two men were killed Saturday in a car crash in Texas after a Tesla that “no one was driving” hit a tree, authorities said.

Deputies responded to a crash at 11:25 p.m. near The Woodlands, an area about 30 miles north of Houston, Mark Herman, the Harris County Precinct 4 constable, said Sunday. The vehicle, a 2019 Tesla Model S, was driving at high speed when it ran off the road, hit a tree and burst into flames, he said.

Police respond to the site of a crash where a driverless Tesla collided with a tree in Houston on April 17, 2021, which killed two passengers in the car.

Police respond to the site of a crash where a driverless Tesla struck a tree near Houston on Saturday, killing two passengers.Scott J. Engle

Herman told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that a preliminary investigation revealed that “no one was driving the car” when the accident occurred. One person was in the passenger seat and another was in the rear seat, he said.

Authorities identified the victims as men ages 69 and 59. Their names had not been released as of Monday morning.

Deputies used more than 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish the flames because the vehicle’s battery kept reigniting the fire, Herman said. At some point during the fire, which Herman said lasted for about four hours, the responding officers had to call Tesla to determine how to put out the flames.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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The National Transportation Safety Board said Monday that it would investigate. The National Highway Transit Safety Administration was also investigating.

In 2018, a 38-year-old driver was killed in Mountain View, California, after a Tesla Model X that was on autopilot crashed into a concrete divider and caught fire. The company said at the time that no action had been taken by the driver, who had a 5-second view of the concrete divider.

And in 2016, a 40-year-old driver in Florida was killed in a Tesla Model S on autopilot that failed to stop when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of it.