Late last week, a Tesla owner was tragically killed when the Model X he was driving on a California freeway crashed into a divider and subsequently burst into flames. Notably, Tesla engineers reportedly came to the scene to help authorities put out the fire that engulfed the car’s battery pack.
As to why Tesla engineers were involved in the first place, a 2016 Tesla Emergency Response Guide notes that the car’s high voltage components require a different approach than a typical car fire. Indeed, one excerpt reads: “When fire is involved, consider the entire vehicle energized and DO NOT TOUCH any part of the vehicle. Always wear full PPE, including self-contained breathing apparatus…”
A few days removed from the incident, Reuters is reporting that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash, though it remains unclear if the Autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the crash.
“The NTSB can make safety recommendations,” the report notes, “but only NHTSA can order automakers to recall unsafe vehicles or fine automakers if they fail to remedy safety defects in a timely fashion. Before the agency can demand a recall, it must open a formal investigation, a step it has not yet taken.”
The NTSB’s investigation will also focus on the appropriate steps to take when dealing with a battery fire and how to adequately remove an impacted car from a crash scene.
In a statement provided to CNN on the matter, a Tesla spokesperson said: “We have been deeply saddened by this accident, and we have offered our full cooperation to the authorities as we work to establish the facts of the incident.”
2 NTSB investigators conducting Field Investigation for fatal March 23, 2018, crash of a Tesla near Mountain View, CA. Unclear if automated control system was active at time of crash. Issues examined include: post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene.
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) March 27, 2018
In the wake of the NTSB announcing its investigation, shares of Tesla fell drastically. At the close of trading today, Tesla shares were trading at $279, marking a 8.22% drop in just the span of a few hours.