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Tesla driver dies in burning car after crash, witness says door handles wouldn’t work

A Tesla driver in Florida died in his burning car after he crashed into a tree. Witnesses said that they couldn’t enter the vehicle to help the driver because the door handles wouldn’t work and the airbags didn’t deflate.

According to the Miami Herald, the accident happened yesterday afternoon and the unnamed driver was declared dead at the scene:

“Davie police spokeswoman Vivian Gallinal says the car hit some palm trees and burst into flames Sunday afternoon crash. An officer was nearby and tried to break the car’s window, but couldn’t get the driver out.”

The police are investigating speed as a possible factor in the crash.

Witnesses said that the vehicle was traveling at over 75 mph at the time of the crash.

Furthermore, witnesses say that attempts to get the driver out were made difficult by the door handles not opening and the airbags not deflating.

Misty Lea Thomas‏ said on Twitter:

“We were there. My husband tried to break the back window out. The airbags didn’t deflate after the crash and trapped the person inside. We couldn’t even see inside the car because all of the bags filled the car. The doors couldn’t be opened.”

She added:

“We had only a couple of min. Several people were trying to find ways to get to the driver but the car doors and bags trapped the driver and kept us from getting to him before the car was taken over by fire. It was like the fire had an accelerant.”

In its first responder guide, Tesla says that the door handles, which are inside the doors in the Model S, should open in the event of a collision in order to facilitate any rescue.

If the mechanism has been damaged and is malfunctioning, first responders should break a window to get inside the vehicle.

Tesla commented on the crash:

“We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy. We have reached out to the local authorities to offer our cooperation. We understand that speed is being investigated as a factor in this crash, and know that high speed collisions can result in a fire in any type of car, not just electric vehicles.”

Despite many reports of Tesla fires, there is currently no data showing that Tesla vehicles catch on fire at a higher rate than gas-powered vehicles.

Electrek’s Take

It’s a tragic accident.

When it comes to the fire. Crash any car into a tree and it has a good chance of catching on fire. Electric or not. Tesla or not.

What is more worrying is the situation with the door handles and the airbags.

I can understand why they wouldn’t present themselves if the vehicle has been badly damaged, but someone should still be able to break a window to get in.

As for the airbags, I definitely can see how it would be more difficult to get to the driver if they wouldn’t deflate, but I’m not sure it would completely prevent someone to get around.

I am aware that the steering wheel airbag is made to deflate right after impact to prevent some kind of rebound effect, but I am not sure about the other airbags around the car.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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