The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of four to investigate a crash that left two teenagers dead and a third injured involving a battery-powered Tesla near Fort Lauderdale Beach Tuesday night, the agency announced Wednesday.
"The goal of these investigations is to understand the impact of these emerging transportation technologies when they are part of a transportation accident,” said NTSB Chairman Robert S. Sumwalt in a news release.
A Tesla spokesperson e-mailed:
"Our thoughts are with the families and friends affected by this tragedy. The family who owned the car has been a close friend of Tesla for many years, and this hits us particularly hard. We are working to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation to the local authorities. We have not yet been able to retrieve the logs from the vehicle, but everything we have seen thus far indicates a very high-speed collision and that Autopilot was not engaged.
"Serious high-speed collisions can result in a fire, regardless of the type of car. Tesla’s billions of miles of actual driving data shows that a gas car in the United States is five times more likely to experience a fire than a Tesla vehicle. This doesn’t change how devastating an event like this is for our customer's family and friends, and our hearts are with them."
The fiery wreck happened just before 7 p.m. Wednesday at 1300 Seabreeze Boulevard near Fort Lauderdale Beach. Two Pine Crest School seniors, 16 days from their graduation ceremony, died in the flaming wreckage of the 2014 Tesla Model S.
Pronounced dead at the scene were driver Barrett Riley, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, and front-seat passenger Edgar Monserratt Martinez, an 18-year-old who lived in Aventura. Back-seat passenger Alexander Berry, 18, a Florida State student, was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for treatment.
Police have said they believe speed is a factor. The Tesla left the roadway and slammed into a concrete wall, before bursting into flames, police said.
Broward County court records say Riley was driving a 2014 Tesla on March 3 when he got ticketed for going 112 mph in a 50 mph zone.
Pat Riley, Barrett's aunt, told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that her nephew was "excited to go to Purdue next year."
“He was accepted and going to engineering school," she told the station. "He was a quiet, wonderful boy. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he studied. He looked forward to a great life as an engineer.”
Pine Crest School principal Dr. Dana Markham told CBS4 that the boys were very close and that "Edgar had a love for business."
“In fact, he was so good at stocks and finance that he would often give investment advice to teachers,” she told the station.
Students gathered on campus and at the crash site to remember the teens.