Fatality Reported In Accident Involving Rear-Ended Tesla Model S


OC Register is reporting that a “7-year-old girl was killed and her 13-year-old sister was in critical condition after a sport utility vehicle slammed into a Tesla in the carpool lane on I-405 Monday morning.”

Police arrested the driver of the SUV.

According to OC Register, the local police were already on the lookout for the 2013 Chevy Tahoe involved in the wreck. The SUV was spotted earlier that morning swerving across yellow lines. Drunk driving or driving under the influence was suspected.

OC register reports:

“When the SUV crossed into the carpool lane, the vehicle struck the 2015 Tesla, where both girls were riding in the back seat. The Tesla was then pushed into a Honda Civic.”

“The two girls and their father were taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The 7-year-old died from her injuries. As of 7:30 p.m. the father remained in serious condition and the 13-year-old girl was in critical condition, according to the hospital.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this horrific accident.

More images at source link below.

Source: OC Register

Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

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102 Comments on "Fatality Reported In Accident Involving Rear-Ended Tesla Model S"

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I’m not sure this is an appropriate story for this site. Not to mention it’s really freaking depressing for the first story of the morning.

Very sad, and not much to do with EVs except a Tesla was involved.

But it DOES bring up the issue of the rear facing seats and how safe they are. Though it seems from reading the article, the girls (bless their souls) were probably sitting in the 2nd row seats, since the police stated they had to be extracted through the front passenger door.

No one is getting extracted through the front doors if they had been sitting in the RFS on that Tesla.

Yea, they were in the back seats, not the 3rd row. It’s amazing that there is anything left of the car after being hit by a Tahoe at a high rate of speed.

F***ing SUVs … and people drive them because “they want to feel safe” … yeah, every SUV driver can text and get drunk behind the wheel and be safe, except those around them.

Pretty much.

Evolution says, “I need an electric SUV to survive!”


Sincere condolences to the family. It’s hard to imagine right now (and it’s certainly no compensation for the tragedy, grief and loss that occurred), but the collision and resulting fatalities could have been worse, with a lesser car. 🙁


Sincere condolences to the family. It’s hard to imagine right now (and it’s certainly no compensation for the tragedy, grief and loss that occurred), but the collision and resulting fatalities could have been worse, with a lesser car. ?”

MOdel Y wouldn’t help… It is based on the smaller Model 3.

Maybe the Pickup truck version will help.

Chevy Tahoe is much taller. Based on picture, it looks like the rear trunk is squeezed into the 2nd row seat…

Fing Drunks need to UBER.

Well, there are 2 issues about this very sad news that do, actually, relate specifically to a Tesla (one of them to EVs in general).

Had the S been a comparable ICE saloon with maybe 20% less weight and made of steel, might it have suffered less rear end damage (I’m thinking conservation of linear momentum, here) and might that influence the likelihood of the type and severity of injury to all occupants but particularly 3rd row ones?

Also, in the future, with a 2nd gen Autopilot fitted, might the S have been able to detect the impending rear-end collision and alert the S’ driver to take evasive action?

This is why we need self driving cars.

Indeed! It’s already been clearly demonstrated that people can’t be trusted not to get behind the wheel when they’re utterly wasted.

Self driving yes. Let us also throw in there transportation systems that first and foremost promote safety. First remove anything that weighs two or three times what the average human weighs. Then ensure that larger modes of transport are confined or encased–think hyperloop encased. Ban highway travel in its current incarnation. Close down street traffic to mini transport only. Consolidate all roadway city traffic to two-person wide encased hyperloop.

I totally agree with ‘Aaron’- this story doesn’t need to be on this site. While auto-pilot related accidents are relevant to the development of electric car technology, accidents completely unrelated to any fault of technology and merely reported because of the badge on the car shouldn’t be listed here. Reading about drunk driver related deaths has no place on an EV site.

IMO, it does belong. Plenty of potential S owners that read this site, and probably a fair share that contemplate the rear facing seat option, like myself.

Based off this news, I am ending my search for a used Model S with rear facing seats.

When rear facing seats are ordered, the rear of the car is reinforced significantly. It makes the car safer; however, I am not sure how the accident would have gone had children been in the third row with the reinforcements.


As stated above, the Model S has a reinforcement installed when you order those rear facing seats. You essentially get a dual bumper system built into the car. And though the vehicle is “tank-like” in it’s design and construction, it is NOT a tank. No passenger car is.

First of all, your “logic” is extremely weak. It makes very good sense to obtain as high-quality information as possible about the safety aspects of a car. Believing that that is what you are doing by reading a few sentences about one particular accident, that doesn’t even have any information that give any pointers at all to how safe the Model S is, is however sheer lunacy. Secondly, the rear-facing seats were not being used in this case, so even if a single accident in largely unknown circumstances (such as not knowing the speed difference of the Tahoe and the Model S, and thus get some idea of the energy involved) was a good way to get an idea of how safe kids are in the rear-facing seats (which it isn’t), this particular story would still be irrelevant. Lastly, and most important, the data that is available about the safety of the Model S indicates that it is one of the safest cars, perhaps even THE safest, that money can buy. Such tests aren’t perfect, and as far as I know there is no specific rating for the rear-facing seats – a pretty unique feature of the Model S –… Read more »

Why is it when someone posts something remotely critical of Tesla, they are automatically labeled as a troll? Please.

I think we can all agree that no one would have survived sitting in that Tesla, RFS and reinforcement bar or not.

Now, whether that girl would have survived if that Tesla had the reinforcement bar but was sitting in the 2nd row? Who knows.

*sitting in the RFS/hatch of that Tesla

Because now we’re going to report flat Tesla tires and how someone for sure will be kill in a bad neighborhood or freeway for the lack of spare tire. It’s ridiculous just imagine the stories of any car brand that sells 10 times of what Tesla produced per year, it just insane to report everything.

bro1999 said:

“Why is it when someone posts something remotely critical of Tesla, they are automatically labeled as a troll? Please.”

I don’t think it’s fair to judge all “Usual Suspects” here, those of us who post regularly, by all too typical over-reaction of the single least mature of us Usual Suspects.

There is a wide gulf between expressing an honest, but negative, opinion, and trolling or posting FUD. Most of us can tell the difference. Please don’t judge the rest of us by the one who can’t.

The Model S has typically been referred to as the safest car ever tested. The Model X the safest SUV. Elon used to refer to the fact that no one had ever died in a Tesla. People pointed to that claim as proof of the car’s safety. When occupants of a Model S survive a crash, that’s often used to argue that the vehicle is safe.

Claims like that lead people to unreasonable expectations.

There have been 7 fatalities in the Model S in 7 accidents. Statistically, that’s not a good record for a large, heavy car.

Things I just learned: There have only been seven accidents involving the Model S

Which means nothing without quantification of risk exposure.

You never took a statistical course, clearly.

Please elaborate. What makes you say that?

There have been way more than 7 Model S accidents. What are you talking about?

The Model S is safe, very safe, period.

The RFS, not an issue in this case, are fine for neighborhood milk runs, but I would not use them on the highway, and this is why.

A large SUV like the Tahoe is basically a murder weapon. The driver should rot in jail for a very long time; not that this will ever undo the grief felt by that family.

I thought it was obvious. Seven fatal accidents. Obviously, yes, there have been many more than 7 accidents.

You state that, “There have been 7 fatalities in the Model S. Statistically, that’s not a good record for a large, heavy car.”
What data are you referring to that states this is more fatalities than the average?

IIHS Driver Death Rates By Make and Model


How odd, Breezy. First you say:

“There have been 7 fatalities in the Model S in 7 accidents. Statistically, that’s not a good record for a large, heavy car.”

And then you link to a table of statistics that show the average death rate, for the driver alone, for the cars included in the study, is 12.

I don’t know how many of the fatalities in Tesla cars were the driver, but if that 7 includes the child mentioned in this report, then the number of driver fatalities is obviously less than 7.

And the number of fatalities would be somewhat lower if the Tesla Model S was not a high performance car. We’d see less occurrences of drivers driving so fast that they plunge over a cliff (at least two fatalities), or suicidal behavior like the car thief wrecking a Model S in a spectacular (and fatal) fashion during a high-speed chase.

Crash tests show the Tesla Models S and X are two of the very safest cars on the road. However, some behavior by drivers of Tesla cars… not so safe!

There have been 6 driver deaths in the Model S. Based on the age of the fleet and number of vehicles on the road, that’s about 48 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years.

This link shows that out of 145,206 Toyota Avalon’s there were 37 deaths in the 3 year period of 2009 to 2011. That is worse than the 7 Model S deaths.

No. That’s 37 deaths per million registered vehicle years.

Correct my math here, but did you just assert that someone has a 100% likelihood of dying if they are in a Tesla Model S during a crash?

I’m gonna conclude that’s not what you intended to say, but would encourage you to check your writing better.

Or were you just being sarcastic?

Again, I thought it was obvious. Lesson learned. The seven deaths occurred in seven accidents; not there have only been seven accidents.

At least one of those 7 deaths was a car thief travelling over 100mph who tried to squeeze his stolen Model S between two office buildings.

Breezy thinks a Tesla is garbage because it’s not indestructable. He also thinks that the Mexican drug dealer that crashed his Model S at over 100mph during his own police chase and vaulted it over a gulley and through a concrete wall, then was healthy enough to exit his car and get into an accomplice’s car to escape — WOULD’DA BEEN BETTER OFF IF HE’D BEEN IN AN TOYOTA AVALON!!!!!!


A troll by any other name is still a troll.

Terawatt, the Tesla S is a very safe car, but I don’t think there is any car out there that is as safe as a Volt. It had its first passenger/driver fatality a few months ago, after 5 years of fatality free production and driving.
The only fatality ever in a Volt was when a BMW T-boned a Volt at approximately 70 mph. The BMW was doing over 100 mph when it first saw the Volt, the driver braked hard but hit the Volt at right around a 90 degree angle.
The rest of the family survived. Volts have been tail ended, they have rolled down embankments, they have been hit by school buses and there hadn’t been a fatality until now. Now that is a safe car.

MTN Ranger, that was one of the articles that convinced me that the Volt was a stout vehicle. Nothing since has indicated I was wrong.

bro1999, as you are worried about a rear accident, you SHOULD get a used Model S with rear-facing seats and NEVER USE them or actually discard the 3rd row seats so they can’t be used. Why? You are getting a car built with extra reinforcement and a second bumper. This will protect your kids in the second row better from a rear collision.

Interesting strategy.

I doubt it matters in this accident…

The bumper of the Tahoe pretty much missed the bumper of the Tesla completely.

Tesla’s rear hatch area took the entire force of the Tahoe’s engine bay.

Look at the Tahoe’s picture, it shows that the frame of the Tahoe bent upward which indicates that Tahoe was well above the Tesla bumper.

I think the only thing would help if the passenger are in a taller vehicle with bumpers that are taller or at least equal height of Tahoe bumper.

I disagree. Tesla is touted as the safest car ever and nothing can ever happen to it. Well this shows that that is not true. While Tesla’s safety record is good, it’s not a miracle car.

Actually an event like this tells us absolutely NOTHING with regards to whether or not the Model S really is “the safest car ever”.

Nobody in their right mind expected that noone would ever be killed in an accident featuring a Tesla. The first fatality ever, btw, is very long ago – although it featured a crash so extreme the car divided into two parts (a car thief ran the stolen Model S sideways into a light pole at very high speed).

I don’t know what it is with these forums, but I have the impression balanced, reasonable comments are getting ever fewer and farther between. The bashers and detractors are no more annoying than the fanbois (who are perhaps more numerous or at least more active here, and so tend to dominate), but not much less either.

They used to sell SUV’s by crashing pick up trucks into tiny cars.

This is the same sort of thing. You’ve got a high speed SUV smashing into a vehicle that’s about half its weight.

What I think people are missing is not that the poor girl died, but the other two didn’t.

A few years ago a giant pickup truck drove into my wife’s Tiguan (basically a slightly bigger golf) at 55 mph head on in a 30 mph limit zone. The car was totaled, my wife shattered her wrist, but the 8-week-old baby in the back was fine.

The cops told us that if she had been driving a RAV4 or CRV, she wouldn’t have survived the accident. I had picked the Tiguan because its roof beat the federal standards at the time by a factor of four. I was extremely glad of my decision.

Needless to say we’re sticking with German and Swedish cars for now, but I would consider a Tesla.

My thoughts are obviously with the family.

Model S is not “half the weight” of a Tahoe. Model S is about 4800 lbs, Tahoe about 5500.

Your sweeping exaggeration weakens the validity of your statements.


Now THAT’S how you do a straw man!

“Someone out there” said:

“Tesla is touted as the safest car ever and nothing can ever happen to it.”

Right, that’s why the Models S and X were subjected to rigorous crash tests… because nobody ever thought anything could happen to them. 🙄

Total and complete FUD B.S.

Crash test is almost an ideal case where the Bumper makes an impact against a fixed barrier (beside small overlap or side pole test).

I haven’t seen any NHTSA crash test result of Model X yet and none of the Tesla has been tested in the small overlap crash test yet.

Hope and prayers go out to all those involved in this terrible chain of events. I am on the 405 driving 50+ all EV miles 6 days a week. I have not gotten carpool stickers because the fastest traffic can pin you in to the center median of the carpool lane, and you can’t get out of the lane, because double yellow lines prevent merging out 95% of the time. Best defensive driving options are to have an escape lane at either side of the vehicle. Fending off high speed lane changing “swerve and merge” type drivers, is very difficult.

I guess the silver lining of the story is that the Tesla still didn’t catch on fire. The news would, after all, have us believe that EVs always catch on fire after a wreck.

What news are you talking about? Can you point to a single news story that makes this claim? And please recall that you said “have us believe that EVs always catch fire after a wreck”. I doubt you can find even ONE story from a well-known (so-called “respectable”) newspaper or other mainstream media outlet that makes the claim. Probably you will have a hard time finding one that says they usually catch fire (which would of course also be wrong).

*Over-defensive Tesla zealot alert*


Funny, but low marks for comprehension.

WHIZZ! <– sound of David Murray's sarcasm going over Terawatt's head 😉

“I guess the silver lining of the story is that the Tesla still didn’t catch on fire. The news would, after all, have us believe that EVs always catch on fire after a wreck.”

I think the bigger picture is the fact that neither Model S nor the Chevy Tahoe caught fire…

ICE catching fire after accident is a high likely case.. But most of the engine bay of the Tahoe are gone but still no fire on the Tahoe or the Tesla.

Agree with most. This story does not belong here. It’s no more relevant than any of the other collisions involving other makes that happen on the 405 almost daily.

That said, despite the detractors here posting comments about the Model S not being A miracle car. No one ever said it was but it is one of if not the safest vehicle ever tested by the National Highway Traffic and safety administration so I’ll take my chances in a Model S any day. no vehicle can protect you 100% against any injuries in all scenarios and outcomes in collisions and to expect that is ridiculous.

And one of the safest the EU safety board has tested.

I suppose InsideEVs is obligated to report this sort of thing, but…

I will be very, very glad when traffic accidents are no longer considered newsworthy at InsideEVs merely because they involved a Tesla car.


Tesla traffic fatalities seem to be caused when a high vehicle comes in over the top of a very low vehicle–the Tesla. I yearn for the day when long range EVs have big enough batteries, or hydrogen fuel tanks, such that they don’t need to be slung so low to achieve reasonable aerodynamic range. That, or when all vehicles are as low as the Tesla.

Right, and it’s the fault of the person that was not wearing a bulletproof vest that they were shot. Convoluted logic, at best.


Again, this underlines even more how urged it is to push the development of autonomous cars even more!! In all brands! Because then, even drunk drivers or drivers “under influence” are no harm anymore for anybody around.
I truly and sincerely hope this will push the legalization of autonomous driving even faster.


The picture of the Tahoe makes it look like it road up over the back of the Tesla. I wonder if the front of the Tahoe was lifted under heavy acceleration just before the impact?

Drunk drivers are terrible.

Looks like the SUV went mostly over the bumper of the Tesla. Physics at it’s worst and I doubt any similar car would fare better. Driver needs to be locked up. Condolences to the family.


Normally, the car hitting you in the rear would be squatting down due to weight transfer caused by braking.

Looks like the SUV might have been hard on throttle instead.

Maybe it had oversized tires and a lift.

Looked pretty stock on the pictures.

(zero fatality)
Audi A4 4WD luxury
Honda Odyssey minivan
Kia Sorento 2WD SUV
Lexus RX 350 4WD
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Subaru Legacy 4WD
Highlander hybrid 4WD
Toyota Sequoia 4WD SUV
Volvo XC90 4WD luxury SUV

(2 death)
Honda Pilot 4WD SUV

(3 death)
Mercedes-Benz M-Class 4WD

(4 death)
Ford Crown Victoria
GMC Yukon

(5 death)
Acura TL 2WD
Chevrolet Equinox 2WD SUV Chevrolet Equinox 4WD SUV Ford Expedition 4WD SUV Ford Flex 2WD SUV
Mazda CX-9 4WD SUV

My family owns 3 of the vehicle on the list.

It’s hard to protect the occupant when an accident involves bumper height mismatch.

“Mazda CX-9 4WD SUV”

One of the worst performance in the IIHS’s crash test…

Those death rate are highly impacted by the driver’s behavior…

Why does the Highlander Hybrid gets its own category from regular Highlander?

Allies of Pushmi-Pullyu

Damn this is so f#%/ing sad. I feel so sorry for the family. What a horrible tragedy. R.I.P. little girl.

The only thing this shows is the importance of putting AEB (of course configurated so full break capacity comes on no matter if you’re breaking or hitting the accelerator when about to crash into something) in every new car as standard as soon as possible.

To all the nay sayers for computers taking control of the car, how would you feel if this was your own family.

Mandate AEB now NHTSA.

Hopefully you are talking about “Braking” as opposed to “Breaking” which are different things.

And we should keep in mind that God willing there will be two survivors that were occupants of the Model S.

Of course… braking 🙂

Sure… but I can’t help to think that if that Tahoe would have had a proper AEB then all three would be alive.

RIP little girl, I hope dad and sister pull through.

This crash is very sad. In a sense SUV and pickup drivers should be submitted to a higher level driving license somewhere between cars and semi trucks. You bare more responsibility when you are in control of a much heavier vehicle that is more dangerous for others.

INTERESTING. That never occurred to me before and you are right! We make truck drivers get special licenses. Perhaps other large vehicle drivers should too.

Although that would screw up the truck rental biz.

This would cause such a drop in SUV sales that NADA would be having kittens (again)…

There have been 6 driver deaths in the Model S. Based on the age of the fleet and number of vehicles on the road, that’s about 48 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years.

Holy smokes! How was there so much relative speed between two vehicles in the carpool lane?

9:15am is still rush hour. The image of the Tahoe doesn’t look like it was modified. Why didn’t the model s stand-up better? It looks like a simple rear in collision.

That would happen to any car – the reason why SUVs are very safe for the occupants and a deadly threat to everyone else is because of the height of the chassis.

SUV/CUV have a higher ground clearance by definition, thus their bumpers are substantially higher than those of all normal vehicles (sedans, minivans, compacts, sports cars, etc.). In most cases, the bumpers do not even hit. That is why the bumper of the Tesla is roughly unmoved while the hatch is pushed up into the cabin, and it’s also why the SUV front is bent upward. The SUV bumper went clean over the Tesla bumper.

S speed zero, SUV speed 40mph or more? Don’t forget that the S is a heavy car (2.2T in the bigger battery versions). It isn’t going to accelerate as fast as a lighter car after being hit in the rear, thus the rear end of the S will have to absorb more energy and that means more deformation of the bodywork and more intrusion into the cabin with obvious implications for the occupants (all else being equal).

I wonder if Tesla (or anyone) could develop a system to protect the passengers when it detects a rear end collision is going to happen. Maybe some kind of airbag could deploy from the rear of the vehicle? (just thinking out loud here).

A while ago I suggested a whole car protection in the form of a big cylindrical air bag popping out of the front shock absorber and extending forward up to 10 m with a diameter equivalent to the width of the car. It would be predeployed by the car in case the sensors and electronics detect that the AEB cannot stop the car on time anymore before impact.

I guess you could have a similar system in the back shock absorber that detect an imminent rear end collision and that deploy a similar airbag in advance of the incoming car, therefore resulting in a force starting to act to reduce relative speed long before the actual impact between the car body works.

Of course there would still remain the side impact case where there isn’t a big shock absorber volume to put a large folded giant airbag in, but if the other car has the same system, then its front global airbag will unfold and do the job.

3 things noticed.

1. In the OC Reg picture, it shows a red Model X nearby. Tesla is very popular. Good thing.

2. Tesla pictures shows that any low cars would be at huge disadvantage in collision with a large SUV. The rear of the Tesla basically end up in the 2nd row seat in this case.

3. Tahoe looked to be well intact that front door frame are completely untouched. Both windshields and driver’s side window are intact. It means that Driver probably didn’t get injuried at all.

That is why large SUVs are so popular…

I feel sad when it is not your fault and you died as someone else’s stupid action. Not to mention that the family is trying to save the planet while driving the Model S…

Maybe they are better off in a Volvo XC90 PHEV.

One thing I am going to ask is this, would Tesla AutoPilot have prevented this? The answer is probably no…

And was Autopilot on at the time of the crash? If so, does this count as another death “under Autopilot”? So, Autopilot doesn’t help in many situations such as this.

The second thing I noticed is the fact that Civic in front of the Tesla had sustained relatively minor damage. That leads me to believe that Tesla was probably braking and end up taking the bulk of the force from the Tahoe. If it had skipped forward more without braking, would it have done better by transferring more energy forward?

Typically when you are rear ended by other cars, the driver’s feet naturally let go of the brake pedals and cars tend to fly forward… That is why you see so many pile ups (and I have experienced that in person). I wonder if the Tesla was in a self braking mode or AEB was active.

Of course, there are too many unknowns here and those are just something I wonder about…

^ Model X on the right

Just horrible. RIP poor little girl.

Wow, the Tesla owner (Don) actually made a couple posts on the TMC forum. Said his S didn’t have RFS, they were stopped at the time, and the Tahoe hit them at highway speeds. So at least a 65 mph impact. I’m surprised he’s even in the right state of mind to make posts. Hoping his older daughter pulls through.


Now that we know there were no RFS, the question is now would the extra reinforcement bar have helped any in this kind of crash as far as protecting the occupants?

I wonder at the security of this car when the rear is smashed as far as the middle but the front isn’t. The car was
moving when hit, so in gear. To be smashed like this wouldn’t have to hit the car in front at the same speed as the SUV hit the Tesla? Is the front of Tesla built stronger than the back?

Not sure what you’re trying to say…Tesla vehicles are always “in gear” – it’s a single-speed transmission with an electronic parking brake. Also, I think you’re confusing some Newtonian mechanics, here. The Tesla has mass – lots of it, weighing about 2500lbs. That means that it is not going to react quickly to an applied force. The speed of the Tesla & SUV (after collision) is going to be substantially less than half of the difference between their speeds at the time of collision. This is because of the differences in momentum, minus the energy lost in the momentum transfer due to the vehicles being crunched, minus the rolling resistance and any braking that either vehicle might have engaged at the time of collision. Also, if you’ll notice, the car in front of the Tesla has considerable body damage to the rear of the car. Your assumption that the car in front wasn’t hit, or that the front of the Tesla is undamaged, is not correct. However, as expected, the damage to the car in front is substantially less than the damage to the rear of the Tesla. Never should the vehicle smash into the vehicle in front at the… Read more »

Thank you, Tom Art, for clarifying this for me. However, I still don’t quite understand why the front of the Tesla does not appear to be heavily damaged when the rear of the car it hit is.

Jessica, if you look at the picture above you will see 2 cars, the S and the black sedan that was in front of the S. The Tahoe hit the S at highway speed and the S was pushed forward into the black sedan. But even if the black sedan hadn’t been there, the Tahoe was moving fast enough and the S is heavy enough that most of this damage was already done in the splitsecond after the Tahoe hit the S.
Cars like the S don’t bounce forward away from a colliding car, the backend is built to collapse and absorb the energy, but if there is too much speed/energy, the car will deform into the passenger space as this one did.

Another picture taken by the Black Civic owner at the site of the accident.