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Tesla owner credits Model S for saving his life after crash with truck hauling jet engines caught on Autopilot camera


We have reported before on some spectacular accidents involving Tesla vehicles where the drivers have credited the company’s engineering and safety features for having saved their lives. In one case last year, Tesla even featured the story behind one of the accidents as part of its “customer stories” series.

The same story is coming back in the news this week as we now have footage of the accident taken by the Autopilot camera and recovered from the salvaged vehicle.

In the customer story, Tesla Model S owner Michelle Scott gave an account of her husband’s accident, which happened on April 26th, 2016:

“Bill was going about 30 miles an hour in typical late afternoon, Baltimore-Washington metro traffic. It’s a route he takes every day, and it backs up in the same spots every day. A box truck, clearly not familiar with this regular traffic phenomenon, rear-ended Bill at full speed. The force of that pushed Bill’s Model S into a tractor-trailer that was hauling two jet engines. From there he spun into another SUV. The median finally stopped him.”

It sounds bad, but it looks even worse.

Since late last year, Tesla hacker and tinkerer Jason Hughes has been able to recover the last few frames taken by Tesla’s Autopilot camera after an accident. He often buys salvaged Tesla vehicles to use for parts in his various Tesla projects and he discovered that Tesla stores some images in the event of a crash – sort of like a black-box.

Hughes got his hands on Bill and Michelle’s Model S this week and managed to recover some footage from the accident:

You can clearly see the Model S crashing into the truck and the SUV – though the fact that it is being rear-ended first is, of course, not visible from the Autopilot camera.

Fortunately, Bill wasn’t severely injured in the accident because the cabin of the car remained whole despite the body looking like it was run over by a train:

His wife shared what she was thinking when she first saw the pictures moments after the crash:

“Then I get a text, with a picture of his car and the truck that hit him. My brain couldn’t quite process what his car looked like and the fact that he was texting me pictures. I was certain I would get to the hospital and get bad news, or that Bill would be headed in surgery. Instead, he was sitting in the hallway, in a wheel chair. Talking. Alive.”

In her post, she wrote that the Model S “saved” her husband and that it was a “miracle of engineering”.

It’s indeed quite surprising that the cabin held together when looking at the pictures. Hughes, who bought the vehicle for parts, told Electrek that the interior was”OK” and the battery pack, both motors, and even the media control unit (MCU) were still working.

The Tesla Model S achieved a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP, but it failed to achieve the top rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) last month due to a problem with the seatbelt. Tesla says that it has since fixed the issue and expects a top rating from IIHS as well.

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