Tuesday night, police in Corvallis, Oregon responded to an incident involving a Tesla Model 3 that was so severe it sent car parts flying hundreds of feet from the crash site. The driver was allegedly under the influence and sheared a power pole off its base upon impact, while fragments of the car were found all around the scene. In fact, individual battery cells were launched from the electric vehicle with one even starting a small fire in a nearby house when flew through a window and landed on a set of bedsheets. Meanwhile, another landed in a person's lap, though emergency officials didn't announce any injuries aside from the driver's.
According to the police report, the driver was believed to be speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour when he lost control of his vehicle and left the roadway. The Model 3 continued to mow down two trees after striking the power pole and finally came to rest after striking a telephone junction box.
To say that the vehicle was obliterated would be an understatement. Parts of the car were slung left and right, dispersing components of the tightly loaded, high voltage battery packs stored in the vehicle's floor.
"The damage from the collision caused the batteries from the Tesla to enter two different residences by breaking through the windows, one landing on a person’s lap and the second landing on a bed, catching the bedding on fire," wrote the City of Corvallis Police Department in a statement. "A tire was ripped from the car during the collision and struck the second story siding of a nearby apartment complex with such force that it ruptured the water pipes within the wall, destroying the bathroom to the apartment and flooding the downstairs portion of the apartment as well."
First responders from the Corvallis Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Benton County Sheriff's Department, spent nearly three hours collecting battery cells and cleaning up the scene. Police warn that there may be battery cells still nearby and urged the public not to touch any they may find on the ground, as punctured cells could catch fire or seemingly
The driver of the car was taken to a local hospital after he fled the scene on foot and was found three blocks away. After being examined, it's reported that he was under the impairment of cannabis. Ultimately, police cited the individual for DUI, Hit and Run, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, and Criminal Mischief.
This entire story is bizarre and it provides a counterpoint to those who vouch for electric vehicle safety. On one hand, it's amazing that the driver of the car simply walked away with minor injuries, especially given the severity of the damage. On the other, flaming batteries igniting someone's bed sheets because they were thrown from the wreckage isn't exactly something we'd expect to read...well, ever. Perhaps this is yet another safety consideration for regulatory bodies to consider as electric cars become more popular.
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