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Mysterious Tesla Fatal Crash in Missouri Gets Us Asking What Caused It

Tesla is under investigation for several problems, including phantom braking. Due to issues with its sensors and the software controlling them, the EVs suddenly brake without any obstacle in front of them. Tesla owners facing the issue fear their cars may be rear-ended pretty badly. That was a strong possibility for a fatal crash that happened in Missouri.
Tesla Model 3 Crashed for stopping in the middle of the road: what caused it? 23 photos
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On February 27, Terry L. Siegel was driving his 2019 Tesla Model 3 on I-70, close to Little Blue Parkway in Independence, Missouri. His car suddenly stopped in the middle of the road. In the report about the crash, the Independence Police Department stated that approaching vehicles did not have time to stop or swerve from his car, causing a collision. Siegel died.

At first, the police said a mechanical issue made the Model 3 stop. We got in contact with them, and Jack Taylor told us the cause is still under investigation. The Independence Police department spokesman said that “officers believed a mechanical defect but we have not been able to determine that for sure yet.”

We then contacted NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) to check if the agency already has that situation under its radar. A spokesperson there told us that they continue to gather information on this crash. However, “at this time, there are no indications that phantom braking was a factor.”

That makes everything surrounding this crash even more mysterious. If it was something obvious, such as the suspension issues that Tesla vehicles often present, the Independence Police department would have already ruled that as the cause. It could also have been a 12V defect, which has already made Tesla vehicles stop on the road. However, they do not happen all of a sudden, giving the drivers time to pull over.

For Siegel’s vehicle to have stopped so suddenly in the middle of I-70, it would have to be a braking event or a defect that caused an event comparable to braking. We’d ask NHTSA for more elements to apparently dismiss phantom braking as a cause if we knew it was willing to disclose more than what it already told us.

There must be a circumstance in the crash that allows the agency to say so, but it has not disclosed what that would be. One thing that crossed our minds is that witnesses stated that the car just stopped without brake lights turning on.

No one is blaming the driver until now. That is often what happens in such situations. If there is no indication that he was responsible for what happened, something in the vehicle did that, and this is what the police and NHTSA are trying to understand. NTSB should also get involved.

Whatever happened there, we must keep an eye on the investigations. It is not unlikely that what caused it could be connected to a current investigation or even to an entirely new issue. In any case, that could demand a recall to prevent crashes such as the one that killed Siegel from happening again.


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