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Witness Video Shows How Fiery Tesla Crash in Coral Gables Happened
The fiery crash involving a Tesla in Coral Gables we recently told you about has raised multiple questions that the police would have to answer. As competent as the forensic investigation is, it is always helpful to have witnesses report what happened. Ian Linder Sheldon is that person for this case. On top of seeing everything, he also recorded the accident, reinforcing how relevant it was to mention that a Tesla was involved.

Witness Video Shows How Fiery Tesla Crash in Coral Gables Happened

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According to the images and information shared by Sheldon, we could determine that the car was not an SUV, as some people pointed out. It was a dark Tesla Model 3, as you can tell for the taillights and the car’s silhouette in the video. Although the footage informs it was 8:40 PM, Sheldon said that the Model 3 overtook him on Alhambra Circle at 8:53 PM.

The witness then reported that the car accelerated to make a yellow light at 8:54 PM. That’s when it hits a large bump, which made the car jump “several feet,” according to Sheldon. The driver then loses control and hits two trees, “instantly causing the battery pack to explode.” The sparks flying in the footage are burning cells, according to the witness. Sheldon called 911 immediately. At 8:57 PM, the car was engulfed by fire.

The crash witness also made some calculations to determine the speed at which the car hit the trees: 35 mph (56 kph). Alhambra Circle is a 30 mph (48 kph) road. If his math is correct, that shows that the collision was not a matter of high speed.

Sheldon said that this is probably “the first documented Tesla accident that shows instant battery failure, explosion, and possibly (this is a guess) suspension failure, causing the car to veer left.” That is not a far-fetched hypothesis.

Keith Leech, also known as Keef Wivaneff, coined the expression Whompy Wheels to refer to suspension issues he has found on multiple Tesla vehicles. Leech wanted to investigate if Tesla vehicles and battery packs were recyclable and started checking at crashed Tesla salvage auctions for evidence. What he found was that “many of these Teslas had damaged suspensions that did not appear to be the result of crash damage but were simply fractures of the suspension components.” He started denouncing these cases.

Mena Massoud is not only the actor that played Alladin for Disney in 2019. He was also the owner of a Tesla Model 3 Performance that crashed one day after buying it on September 20, 2018. The actor said the passenger’s front wheel ejected from the car and made him hit a tree. Massoud sued Tesla for the suspension issue.

Finally, NHTSA started an investigation about suspension problems in Tesla vehicles in November 2020. It was a kind of follow-up to what the Chinese government did in October 2020. By then, it ordered the company to recall 18,182 units of the Model S and Model X. Tesla had to replace rear linkages of the left and the right front suspension and the upper linkages of the left and right rear suspension for more robust ones.

The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y also have a well-documented history of suspension issues related to lower ball joint nuts, loose bolts, upper control arms, and other components. Owners detect the problems when they hear creaks and pops coming from the suspension.

At this point, there’s no evidence that this was what caused the crash. However, such sudden yaw to the left at low speed – as we can see in Sheldon’s video – needs a detailed explanation. The fact that the car caught fire so fast also requires attention: this would be why the emergency services could not assist the victims.

It would be nice to hear what Tesla has to say about all those aspects of the collision, but it does not have a press department in the U.S. anymore. The police investigation will probably give us the answers this case deserves.

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