NTSB Report Says Tesla Battery Reignited Twice Following Florida Crash


Details emerge on sequence of events

On May 8 of this year, a tragic crash of a Tesla Model S in Fort Lauderdale, Florida took the lives of two teens and injured a third. At the time, it was reported that the car had hit a wall and burst into flames. Excessive speed was believed to be the main contributing factor. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which opened an official investigation into the incident has published a preliminary report (PDF) which answers some questions about the horrible event.

As can be seen in the photo of the remains of the all-electric sedan (above), fire was indeed involved in the aftermath. According to the report, responding firefighters used 200 to 300 gallons of water on the flames as well as foam. While that doused the blaze initially, the findings also mention that the batteries combusted again, twice, following the initial extinguishing.

The first reignition occurred as the car was being loaded onto the truck that would take it to a storage yard. It was a minor flare up and quickly doused. The second recurrence happened upon arrival at that yard and again, the flames were quickly put out. The situation is somewhat similar to that of another crash from March, when the damaged pack, in that case, reignited after six days.

The NTSB report also clarifies the sequence of events in the wreck. Using data from the vehicle’s restraints control module (RCM), investigators say that, despite approaching a turn in the road with a 25 mile per hour advised speed sign accompanied by a flashing light, the car was traveling at 116 mph. The speed limit on the street is posted as 30 mph.

As the driver maneuvered around another car on the five-lane street (two lanes in each direction with a middle turn lane), he lost control. By the time his foot hit the brake, the sedan had slowed to 108 mph. According to people who witnessed the scene, the car mounted the sidewalk and hit the concrete wall while continuing to move forward.

As the wall discontinued for a driveway, the car crossed the gap and hit the wall on the other side of the opening on its edge. It was then that it first burst into flames, the integrity of its battery pack, no doubt, compromised. From there, the car re-entered the road, crossing it and hitting a light pole before coming to a final halt in a driveway.

Unlike an earlier, widely-reported fatal crash in Silicon Valley, the Tesla Autopilot feature was not suspected to be involved. As we noted, this is an initial report and the NTSB continues its work. The agency says, “All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes. The NTSB is working in partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Source: Reuters, NTSB

Categories: Crashed EVs, Tesla

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41 Comments on "NTSB Report Says Tesla Battery Reignited Twice Following Florida Crash"

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116 mph in a 30 mph zone- wow! Clearly driver fault on the crash. As far as the batteries, I hope that there is a teachable moment for Tesla and other EV manufacturers that comes out of this, but I also have to wonder if you just can’t entirely plan for every eventuality with colllisions at that speed.

That car should have been in beginner mode with a speed restriction.



I have to disagree. Likely, the teens didn’t pay for this car with their own money, typically folks with enough of their OWN money work hard to earn it. And buying something like a Tesla with your own money is typically bred out of responsibility and a respect for the item that is owned. Which leads me to believe that this was merely an expensive plaything given without thought by irresponsible parents who failed their children. Kinda like giving them a gun without instruction. A car is a lethal weapon, used much more frequently than guns. 99.9% of vehicles can travel well over the speed limit and don’t have the capability to be electronically limited to cater for irresponsibility. While a nice feature (like a safety on a gun), ‘beginner mode’ only treats the symptoms at the leaves- children shouldn’t be turned loose with an incredibly fast lethal weapon without being instructed first.

Sorry, Tesla isn’t responsible for babysitting irresponsible children. (NOW you can thumbs me down)

The dad bought it for the kid. After he got a ticket for going 112 mph, the dad still let him drive it. He had Tesla put a speed restriction on it that they use for loaner cars. Somehow, the kid was still able to get it to go 116 mph after that. There’s obviously still some loose ends in the story. We’re hoping to know more soon.

A spoiled, rich, irresponsible teen was able to find (probably thru social media) how to hack the Tesla car’s controls to bypass parental controls?

I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say!

The only real tragedy is that this SOB managed to kill one other person and injure another when he earned his “Darwin Award”.

Nice distraction attempt by true Tesla propaganda warriors, but it isn’t about who was at fault in this accident. It is about the car safety. You may blame somebody being richer than you, or irresponsible, or greenwasher all day long but these sins don’t carry death penalty by burning alive last time I had checked.

Even average 11 year old run down economy clunkers have 445 fire fatalities per year per 264 million highway vehicles, or 1.7 per million/year. Very low benchmark for 200,000 relatively new Teslas would be 0.3 fire fatalities per year.

Repeated re-ignition of this toxic waste just makes things much worse for fire departments.

Fire departments need to lean battery fundamentals

“…it isn’t about who was at fault in this accident. It is about the car safety.”

There may be a valid debate topic here, and that topic is whether auto makers should appeal to speed demons by making high performance cars which are street legal. Such cars tend to attract those who drive recklessly, teenagers or otherwise.

One could argue that those cars should not be made; one could argue that Ferrari and Lamborghini and Maserati and Bugatti and Alfa Romeo and a few others should not be in business.

But let’s not single out Tesla. Doing that is nothing more than Tesla bashing… which is precisely your motive for commenting here, Mr. Troll.

“…this toxic waste…”

You earned another troll point for that, too.

You are talking about car safety when some moron runs into a concrete wall at >100 mph? Get some perspective. It is a wonder even one of them survived — in pretty much any other vehicle, there would have been three fatalities.

Parents should be sue by the other kids parents and the state for the cleanup

@John: Well… Elon Musk bought a MacClaren F1 from his self earned PayPal money and then he crashed it… without insurance. Google it, the story is on YouToube.

Yeah, that’s not smart. Regardless, you think teenagers with a Tesla is a good idea?

Well I guess Tesla disagrees.

They just released it.

Apparently, it was, but somehow that got changed.

I don’t believe that a speed limitation can avoid accidents like this. Well, you can’t go faster than 50, but you can go at 50 in a 25 zone which is very dangerous. I think that a system based on GPS and local limits, is the only real solution. If you drive in a 25 zone, you can’t go faster than 25.



Amazing the 3rd occupant lived.

I read in an earlier report the father of the teenage driver had requested Tesla to set a max speed on the Car (around 80 mph -same as loaner cars) and Tesla had done it.

But here it says the car was moving at 116 mph!!!

Yes. The kid got a ticket for going 112 mph and the father got Tesla to limit the speed to 80 or 85 mph. So, we were also wondering how he could have been going 116 mph. But, both stories check out (at least according to what the authorities said and what the Tesla data recorder showed). Another story just said he was driving “too fast” in a 30 mph zone.

That being said, we’d hate to make any assumptions, but obviously, he “could” have figured out a way to defeat it, or the limiting function was not turned on at the time or something. I’m trying to seek out other details since it has been troubling me as well.

If it was a setting in the car or valet mode, then he could have had it turned off. This story mentions everything we’re talking about, but doesn’t get to the bottom of the discrepancy:


And Steven let’s also not forget (and anyone else who reads this) that even if the limiter had been set, I have a pretty good idea that even at 80-85 mph, the end result would’ve been the same into a 25 mph corner. Let’s be honest, once you go past about 50 mph into a 25 mph corner, you’re pretty much done.

Very true. I pointed that out in my other post.

Man, that car just dissolves into almost nothing.

Yep, just like any vehicle that fully combusts.

I’ve seen many torched cars, but normally the chassis is pretty much intact.

Tesla S is all aluminum which is much easier to melt than steel frames. Throw an aluminum can into a fire and it melts pretty fast. A steel can will be there in the ashes basically intact.

This car is mostly made of aluminium, like an Audi A8. Steel cars have more visible structure remaining after a heavy fire.

Something to be said about specific heat…

The interesting thing here is not blaming the driver, the parent or the car, but if this is a general properties of EVs? (batteries burning hot, re-igniting). There’s must be enough crashes out there by now to draw some conclusions?

Yes, and perception by general public (fanboys excluded) will be that all EVs are fire hazards on wheels, even if it is property of products made by single reckless automaker only, not other mass market EVs.

You may “explain” nuances all day long, but nobody will bother to read really.

Except that fire risk is 11 times lower for Tesla than ICE cars, while EVs in general are “only” five times lower than ICE.

Yea materials are combustible, batteries burn, gas burns, oil burns and teens are not mature enough to be given responsibility of driving a car. A teen that has previously demonstrated this is 100% guaranteed to reoffend. He did and he murdered someone in the process

Well, it’s hard to say for EVs in general, since only Tesla crashes are picked up by media like that… Generally, fire risk is much lower than with ICE cars; but there have been a couple (by which I mean, maybe four) incidents reported where a Tesla battery burned fiercely after being torn apart in extremely high speed impacts. (About 100 mph or so.) I’d expect the effect to be similar with other batteries.

Jesus Christ. 186 km/h in a residential area. Darwin won again.

That image reveals how insanely complex these things are..

Kids will be kids.🤭. Why these parents didn’t have a teen driver mode?

America, where kids are allowed to drive and buy guns… what outcome do you expect? Of course, as usual blame it on Tesla despite building safe cars.

They have many more guns per person in Switzerland – where gun ownership is REQUIRED by the Canton, and MUST be available in every house or apartment. They don’t seem to have any problems at all, since they properly train everyone.

The Swiss take to heart the Lesson of William Tell, where in the States it is just presented as a silly nursery story.

In the interest of accuracy, I checked the wiki entry, where they say that Swiss gun ownership levels are ‘hard to quantify’, and, ‘MUCH LOWER than the U.S. at only 24 weapons per 100’. I find that difficult to accept since household ownership has been mandatory, although there are obviously initiatives around to change this.

Solution to combustion of damaged cells: put the entire wrecked car in a container unit or room that will automatically sprinkle foam in case of further combustion. Doesn’t sound too complicated but maybe expensive…

Or put it somewhere where it can simply burn out completely