The scene when Omar Awan's Tesla S model slammed to a palm tree in February. (Image via SFGate)
Mama, Tesla just killed a man. Again!In February, a doctor in the United States (U.S) died in a car crash when driving in Tesla. The man was driving a 2016 Tesla S before he lost control and it collided with a palm tree.
Omar Awan (48), an anesthesiologist, was driving in South Florida at 75 – 90 mph before the car careened and collided with a palm tree. However, after several investigations, it was not the crash that killed the anesthesiologist.
The crash caused an ion lithium battery that powers the car to ignite, burning Awan in the car. The crowd immediately rushed to the scene to save the poor anesthesiologist. Local police officers also came to save the poor man. Of course, to save the man they needed to open the car door.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit on 10 October, Tesla S has a retractable door handle when it detects the key fob nearby. However, due to the crash, it malfunctioned, locking Awan who was consumed by fire and smoke due to the collision.
The police and local witnesses could not find any way to open the door, afraid of the dangerous fire. The failsafe guidelines stated that if the automatic door fails, the rescuer needs to reach the interior door knob manually.
When the firefighters had put down the flame and Awan’s body has been evacuated, the car was towed to the tow yard. Once at the tow yard, it was on fire again.
The family attorney for Awan’s family, Stuart Grossman, stated that Tesla S was picked by Omar Awan for two reasons: safety and environment. As an anesthesiologist, Awan could have picked Mercedes or other luxurious cars. However, he chose the Tesla S instead.
In the lawsuit, Awan’s death was caused by excessive carbon monoxide poisoning from excessive smoke inhalation. The feature that should be a safety measure for its passenger turned into a “death trap”. The autopsy showed that Awan did not suffer from internal injuries or broken bones.
However, Grossman also regretted the fact that the police officer did not adhere to the failsafe guideline as they could not open the doorknob manually from inside the car.
Father of five, Awan’s family is seeking US$15,000 in compensation. Tesla has not commented yet to the lawsuit.
TESLA VS. FIRE
Tesla and fire have always been close. In 2015, Bloomberg’s 2015 Consumer Reports stated that the broken automatic door is often the case with the S model. Tesla claimed that the S model reached the “safest” rating that any car could get. Ironic.
Regarding Awan’s incident, Tesla only addressed its condolences without any solution nor compensation.
In May 2018, a car crash involving the Tesla model also killed two teens from three passengers. One passenger luckily escaped the fire. The fire was due to the battery. Grossman testified for the lucky survivor of the crash.
In April 2019, a surveillance camera footage in Shanghai caught the moment when an S model burst into flames. Also, the same fire reoccurred in Antwerp, Belgium, with the same model, in June 2019. Tesla immediately held a thorough investigation of the S model.
There are also several lawsuits against Tesla’s “Auto-pilot” system that leads to accident and mortalities.