Investigators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say the 2014 Tesla Model S that crashed into a ConFire ladder truck at a crash site in Walnut Creek on Feb. 18 was on Autopilot at the time – marking the latest in a series of crashes involving the popular vehicles with stationary objects.
The crash killed driver Genesis Mendoza Martinez, 31, of Pittsburg, seriously injured his passenger and caused minor injuries among four firefighters at work on a previous, unrelated crash on I-680 in Walnut Creek. ConFire’s Truck 1, the largest apparatus in their firefighting inventory, had been parked to provide cover for firefighters at work on the prior crash.
The $1.4 million firetruck had to be towed away due to damage sustained in the collision, with the Tesla so badly damaged that firefighters had to cut it open to extricate the injured passenger. Martinez was declared dead at the scene.
The NHTSA said a special crash investigation team is taking a closer look at the crash but suspect the crash took place when the driver engaged an automated driving system. At least 15 Teslas have crashed into emergency vehicles nationwide while using the system, according to a report by AP News.