Tesla driver dies after Model S hits tree

Firemen were unable to approach the wreck due to electricity hazard

The driver of a Tesla Model S electric car has reportedly died in a crash in the Netherlands this morning – and firefighters on the scene were nervous about being electrocuted as they fought the fire.

Firefighters were said to be wary of the car's batteries having short-circuited thanks to damage caused by the crash, in which the Model S ploughed into a tree.

The 53-year-old driver was reported to have died before the fire brigade arrived. It is not known whether he had engaged the car's autopilot function.

Firefighters were said to have called Tesla technicians for help determining whether the car posed an electrical hazard, reportedly forcing them to leave the driver's body in the car.

“There is high voltage in a car like that. If there is something wrong and it stands on all four wheels, we can work safely,” said a fire brigade spokesman. “It is sad that the victim was still sitting in it. But the fire department wouldn’t take that risk.”

The Electrek green news website reported, quoting a machine translation from Dutch news website RTV NH: “Tesla technicians have arrived at the scene of the accident and have advised the fire department on how they can best proceed with the salvage of the body without being electrocuted.”

The Dutch Broadcast Foundation (NOS) reported that part of the car's batteries were thrown clear of the wreckage and had also caught fire down the road, where firefighters struggled to put out the blaze.

“We tried first with a powder extinguisher. But there was a short circuit. In the end we covered [it] with earth from the roadside,” a spokesman told the NOS.

“Tesla is starting an investigation into the accident. As soon as we have the results Tesla will share this with the public," a company spokesman told the NOS. Data from the car's onboard computer will be analysed as part of the investigation.

Police are also examining the crash to determine “if this is someone who lost control over the wheel, or if there is another cause”. ®

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