ANOTHER DEATH IN A TESLA: A Tesla driver has been killed when his vehicle collided with a tree. It's unclear whether the battery-powered car was in autopilot mode. Image: iStock
The Hague, Netherlands - The 53-year-old driver of a Tesla Model S electric car died Wednesday when the vehicle smashed into a tree in the central Dutch town of Baarn and burst into flames, police and firefighters said.
Police are investigating the cause of the early morning accident in the town 40km southeast of Amsterdam and Tesla said in a statement it is helping.
The automaker, based in Palo Alto, California, said: "Technical personnel are on the scene, and we are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation. We are deeply saddened to hear that this accident involved a fatality. We will share our findings as soon as possible following the investigation."
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Ronald Boer, a spokesman for emergency services, said in a telephone interview that firefighters did not immediately recover the man's body because of fears that emergency service workers could be electrocuted.
"The car was so badly damaged that the firefighters could not operate its security systems," he said.
Boer said it was not immediately clear if the driver was using the car's autopilot system.
Autopilot is a semi-autonomous driving system that uses cameras, radar and computers to spot objects in front of the car and stop it if there is a danger of a collision. Tesla says it is a driver assistant system and the human driver must be ready to take control at any time.
Earlier in May 2016, the first person to die in a US crash involving a car in self-driving mode was the tech-savvy 40-year-old owner of a Tesla Model S who nicknamed his car "Tessy" and praised its sophisticated "Autopilot" system.
Joshua D. Brown, of Canton, Ohio, died in the May 7 crash in Williston, Florida, when his car's cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer rig from a brightly lit sky and didn't automatically activate its brakes, according to government records and a Tesla statement