FREMONT (KPIX) — A Tesla driver was lucky to walk away from a fiery crash Monday morning in Fremont.
Police believe fatigue could have been a factor in the crash on southbound Paseo Padre Parkway at Thornton Avenue.
“We believe the driver was fatigued and … speed played a role when he drifted off the roadway and into the two trees,” Fremont police Sgt. Daniel O’Connell told KPIX.
The Tesla slammed into a tree a little at about 7:10 Monday morning. Southbound lanes on Paseo Padre reopened about 10:45 a.m.
Police say the driver was heading south on Paseo Padre Parkway when he veered off the road and crashed head-on into trees along the road.
The force of the impact swung the car around and damaged the front part of the long battery which runs along the undercarriage.
The man escaped on his own but the car caught fire a short time later.
The driver, the only occupant in the car, suffered only minor injuries, police said. KPIX 5 has learned the driver was a Tesla employee.
For three hours, Fremont firefighters sprayed water on the battery to cool it down and monitored the temperature. Tesla technicians gave the all-clear via phone to move the Model X to a tow yard.
When asked if he knew whether the vehicle had been in Autopilot mode at the time of the crash, Sgt. O’Connell said he did not.
“We want to know that also so we’ve been in touch with Tesla. We will do a follow-up investigation to see whether or not Autopilot was engaged,” Sgt. O’Connell said.
Firefighters learned a valuable lesson while fighting this Tesla car fire.
“About 10 minutes into the incident, we used a truck company to lift the vehicle partially so the whole (water) stream can be applied directly to the battery pack,” Fremont fire department battalion chief Gary Ashley told KPIX.
“The battery pack sits at the base of the vehicle. In order to cool it effectively, you need to tilt the vehicle a bit. We used high-lift jacks to do that and it was very effective,” he added.
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