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Tesla driver dies after car crashes through fence, then plunges into pond in California

It’s too soon to know if the Tesla’s semi-autonomous autopilot mode was engaged when the crash occurred, authorities said

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 2:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 9:12pm

Authorities in the San Francisco Bay area in northern California are investigating the death of a man after a Tesla he was driving veered off a road, crashed through a fence and plunged into a pond. It is unknown if the vehicle was in autopilot mode.

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The driver’s speed in the 35mph zone was not yet known, but “it was great enough to leave the roadway, hit a fence, keep going down an embankment and into a pond on the property,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Daniel Jacowitz said.

The driver was identified as Keith Leung, 34, of Danville, California, said Sergeant Ray Kelly, spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s office.

Rescuers pulled the submerged car, a Tesla Model S, from the pond early Monday and found the man’s body inside, Jacowitz said.

Kelly said it was too soon to know if the vehicle’s semi-autonomous autopilot mode was engaged when the crash occurred or whether the driver was speeding or intoxicated.

Photographs of the car show that its back end was destroyed, its hood crumpled and windows shattered.

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The crash occurred near the towns of San Ramon and Danville on Sunday evening, Jacowitz said. A property owner contacted authorities after hearing noise and seeing tyre tracks and damage to his fence.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s office sent a rescue team and divers that found the vehicle submerged in the pond, with the driver still seated in the car, Jacowitz said.

Federal transportation authorities are investigating a March 23 crash of a Tesla Model X SUV on a California highway. The driver was killed. Authorities are looking into the performance of Tesla’s autopilot system.