The Tesla Model S involved in the crash and burn incident in Texas that killed two men may have been driven by someone, Tesla’s top executive states. 

Their comments on Monday contradict statements made by the local law enforcement and could also complicate the investigation by federal crash investigators. 

Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, Lars Moravy, announced that Tesla’s representatives were able to inspect the crash, alongside the local law enforcement and investigators from the  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Moravy said the company was able to determine that the steering wheel was “deformed,” leading them to conclude there was someone in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.

“All seatbelts post-crash were found to be unbuckled,” Moravy added. Tesla’s advanced driver assist system, Autopilot, can only operate when the seatbelts are buckled. (Consumer Reports recently was able to prove that Tesla’s vehicles can easily “tricked” into thinking a person is in the driver’s seat.)

NHTSA and NTSB declined and refused to comment. 

Moravy also stated that the company wasn’t able to recover the SD card from the vehicle. “We continue to hold safety in a high regard and look to improve our products in the future, through this kind of data and other information from the field,” he added.

The Deadly Crash

On April 17, Saturday, the crash occurred in Spring, Texas. According to KHOU in Houston, investigators were “100 percent certain” that at the time of the crash, no one was in the driver’s seat. 

According to The New York Times, the wives of the men involved in the crash overheard them talking about the Autopilot feature of the vehicle, a 2019 Tesla Model S. The two victims were identified as Everette Talbot, 69, and William Varner, 59, a prominent local anesthesiologist.

After the crash, Tesla CEO Elon Musk claimed that the “data logs recovered so far” shows that the Autopilot was not engaged and that the vehicle owner had not purchased the company’s “Full Self-Driving” option that allows the use of Autopilot on local roads. 

The company commented further, their claims contradicting the local law enforcement’s initial assessment of the incident.