Tesla exec says driver likely behind wheel in deadly Texas crash, contradicting police reports

A Tesla Inc. executive said Monday that the steering wheel of a vehicle involved in a deadly crash in Texas was “deformed,” and that it was likely there was someone in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash — contradicting initial police reports that said no one was behind the wheel.

Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, said on the automaker’s first quarter earnings call that following an examination of the crash, the company found “auto-steer did not and could not engage” and that “adaptive cruise control only engaged when the driver was buckled and above 5 mph and it only accelerated to 30 mph with a distance before the car crashed.”

Moravy said Tesla inspected the car with The National Transportation Safety Board, NHTSA and local police and found “the steering wheel was indeed deformed, leading to the likelihood that there was someone in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash and all seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled.”

The April 17 accident involved a 2019 Tesla Model S that was traveling at high speed near Houston when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local authorities said.

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