— A Tesla Model S crash in Texas that killed the two occupants involved a car owner who had allegedly been drinking before the fatal crash.
In May, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report regarding the fatal, April 17, 2021, crash of a 2019 Tesla Model S near Spring, Texas.
The Tesla Model S was equipped with Autopilot, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system that requires the Traffic Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer systems to be engaged.
Tesla's Traffic Aware Cruise Control is an adaptive cruise control system that provides acceleration and deceleration, and Autosteer is a lane-keeping assist system that is supposed to keep a vehicle in its lane.
Investigators found it was possible for a Model S to have Traffic Aware Cruise Control engaged on that section of road, but Autosteer was not available where the crash happened.
The Tesla Model S Crash
The crash killed the two occupants and received a large amount of media attention when local law enforcement said it appeared the car didn't have a driver at the time of the crash.
Dr. William Varner, the 59-year-old Tesla owner, was found in the back seat and 69-year-old engineer Everett Talbot was found in the front passenger seat.
Home security footage shows both men entering the car at the owner's home, with Varner entering the driver's side and Talbot getting into the passenger's seat.
The Model S slowly entered the roadway and traveled about 550 feet before the Tesla left the road on a curve, drove over a curb, hit a culvert and a raised manhole and finally slammed into a tree.
The fire destroyed the car and the onboard data storage device, while the restraint control module was damaged and taken to the lab for evaluation.
No results have been released, but the NTSB says the steering wheel was damaged and also sent to the lab. A damaged steering wheel typically means a driver was in the seat when a crash occurred.
Now an autopsy report says the Tesla Model S owner may have been drunk when the crash occurred.
According to a report from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, William Varner's blood alcohol level was nearly double the Texas legal limit of 0.08%.
Although the autopsy can't answer why Varner was found in the left rear seat of the Model S, the report says his death was caused by "blunt force trauma and thermal injuries with smoke inhalation."
CarComplaints.com will update our website when the government releases additional details about the Texas crash.