Two people are dead and three others are left with serious injuries after the driver of a Tesla Model Y allegedly lost control of the electric car in southern China.
The high-speed run, which was captured on surveillance cameras, shows the vehicle pulling to the side of the road before suddenly gaining speed and weaving through a road in Chaozhou, Guangdong province, barely missing some pedestrians on Nov. 5.
The 55-year-old driver, identified as a former truck driver named Zhan, reaches a top speed of 123 mph as the car knocks a cyclist from their bike and drives into a delivery vehicle before crashing into a building.
Zhan told local media that he tried to slow down in front of his family’s store. However, the vehicle allegedly kept accelerating even after he stepped on the brake pedal.
“I felt the car was malfunctioning, so I pressed the park button, but it began to accelerate,” Zhan reportedly told Dahe Daily. “Suddenly, I was racing ahead, and I tried the brakes repeatedly. There were others on the road. A motorcycle was ahead of me, so I swerved the steering wheel.”
“Because I was a truck driver, I knew what to do if ever my brakes failed on a slope, so after I lost control of the car, I immediately began searching for an obstacle to crash into,” he added. “I continued to try the brakes to see whether they would start working and stop the car. I was thinking about where to crash, but my reactions couldn’t keep up with the speed.”
According to reports, a motorcyclist and a high school student were killed in the incident, while three others were severely injured. The driver has reportedly survived.
The 55-year-old’s family blamed the crash on a malfunction of Tesla’s AutoPilot technology. He was allegedly unable to slow down or stop the vehicle manually. The Tesla was reportedly acquired from a friend in November 2021, according to Zhan’s son.
However, the Elon Musk-owned car manufacturer has denied the claims. Tesla provided data indicating that the brake pedal was not applied during the high-speed run, adding that the car’s brake lights remained off in the video.
“The vehicle’s electronic throttle was depressed deeply for long periods and held at 100 percent for a time,” Tesla wrote in a statement. “There was no braking action during the whole process. Please also do not listen to rumors, and do not spread unconfirmed information.”
Safety experts reportedly believe that the driver could have mistaken the brake pedal for the accelerator.
The incident remains under investigation. Traffic police have ruled out driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol after conducting a toxicology test on Zhan. However, authorities are still awaiting an independent assessment.
The car manufacturer will be actively providing “any necessary aid” to the local police, which may reportedly involve a third-party investigator.
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