Stolen Tesla Model S Crashes, Gets Cut In Half, Goes Up In Flames – Video – Updates


Cut In Half Tesla Model S (via KTLA)

Cut In Half Tesla Model S (via NBC News)

A high-speed pursuit ended when a stolen Tesla Model S crashed and was split in two in West Hollywood at approximately 12:30 AM today.

“The crash occurred around 12:30 a.m. on La Brea Avenue between Fountain and Lexington avenues.”

Reports KTLA.

“A witness told KTLA that the Tesla hit a pole, got cut in half and that part of it landed on top of a white car.”

The witness went on record, stating:

“Video from the scene showed the Tesla was split in half, and a portion of the vehicle appeared to have crashed into a building at the corner of the street. The other half of the vehicle remained in the roadway.”

“There was fires after that that broke out.  I saw the firefighters — like 25 firefighters – standing around the white car with the Jaws of Life.”

“We originally thought it was fireworks, everybody thought it was fireworks that were just exploding.”

Separately, NBC News reports the following:

“Multiple vehicles were involved in a fiery wreck as a result of the chase and up to seven people may have been injured. At least four vehicles suffered major damage.”

As seen in the video, multiple automobiles were involved in the carnage.

The crash is currently under investigation.

*UPDATE: Driver of Model S reported to be deceased at the scene after being launched through Model S windscreen.

UPDATE 2: InsideEVs has received word that one of the persons in the Honda Civic that was struck was critically injured, and that at least one person inside the stolen Tesla Model S who was reported to have died at the scene, has been revived by paramedics before taking him to hospital with critical injuries. His current status is unknown.

Update 3: Pursuit suspect (only 1 occupant confirmed in Model S) is in critical condition, but has pulled through.

Update 4 (July 10): Driver of Tesla Model S has succumbed to his injuries and died at hospital

This accident comes just a month after Elon Musk stated there had been no serious injuries or fatalities in a Model S after 344 million miles of driving, a fact he stated was “…certainly one of our proudest accomplishments“.

Tesla Model S Crash via NBC LA

Tesla Model S Crash via NBC LA

Sources: NBC News & KTLA

Category: Crashed EVs, Tesla

Tags: , , ,

87 responses to "Stolen Tesla Model S Crashes, Gets Cut In Half, Goes Up In Flames – Video – Updates"
  1. Big Solar says:

    holy crap! bad news.

    1. Remember folks, this just one of many senseless and foolish acts by an individual driving a vehicle beyond ther capabilities over this July 4th weekend.

      The driver may think they’re exercising their independence … just not from the laws of physics.

      Too sad in this accident, like many others this weekend, a number of innocent victims will be hurt, or life’s take just because paths crossed.

      While the owner of the Tesla in this case will get a replacement vehicle, the humans will have a much greater challenge finding parts to repair their bodies. 🙁

    2. Lad says:

      There are a number of large white-hot spot fires along the path of the S car. These appear to be separate chemical fires from Lithium Cells. The firemen are wisely letting them burn out.

      Don’t see how Tesla can save people from themselves by building the World’s Safest Car when people are hell-bent on proving they can’t.

      These type crashes always entertain the cowboy cop debate of when should the Police break off a chase to reduce danger to the innocent.

      1. Jeff D says:

        In regards to chase, I am thinking this is one that could have been called and then have Tesla track it. LA also has helicopters.

  2. yuba says:

    Wow! How fast were these guys going? What force is needed to cut a full size car in half… incredible.

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      They would have to be going over a 100 miles hour maybe a 110. They would also have to hit the pole at a prefect angle to cut the car in half. Also you would need a cement or a steel pole buried deep in the ground to cut the car in half. In that most telephone poles would break first before cutting a car in half.

      1. Weapon says:

        The car is made out of a boron steel frame. It is going to take more than going 100mph to break that in half.

        Some possibilities could be that:

        1) The car hit into that building and the side of the building split the car.

        2) Since the car was at a dealership, if it was in for service, it is possible the car was partly disassembled to begin with as they were working on it.

  3. Steven says:

    Seriously, without the “key”, how do you steal a Tesla?

    1. Ocean Railroader says:

      It can be stolen by hacking into computer system with a smart phone.

      1. Joshua Burstyn says:

        You can open the Tesla Model S that way but it shouldn’t go into drive in my experience. With no key it says ‘no key’ on the dash and won’t shift into gear.

        1. Rob says:

          BMWs have been vulnerable to this kind of attack. Thieves gain access to the data port and then reprogram a blank key. Then drive it away…

      2. Weapon says:

        No, it can’t. The guy/guys who stole it most likely had the key. The dealership probably either left the key in the car or somewhere visible.

    2. SIvad says:

      Maybe a carjacking.

    3. Roy_H says:

      Can’t answer your question, but I though all cars constantly connected to the internet, had remote shut down capability where the csr would run slower and slower until it stopped. This being set by stolen report or police.

      1. Nelson says:

        I think the Police need more training. Most new cars can be traced via GPS especially a Tesla. Police should not endangered other drivers by chasing a stolen vehicle. Too many times this happens. They all want to be on TV chasing a criminal.

        NPNS! SBF!

        1. evnow says:

          Absolutely. Not just reckless thieves – but also reckless police. This is similar to storming a building where someone is held hostage – by the first officer who comes on the scene.

        2. Marc Lee says:

          Have to agree with Nelson on this one. There is absolutely no reason for police to engage in a hot pursuit with a car that can easily be tracked.

    4. Thomas says:

      There is a huge chance, that there are keys in the dealership. Probably not stored in a safe or something like that.

    5. BraveLilToaster says:

      Obviously, you have to steal the key.

  4. Ocean Railroader says:

    I think in this case it wasn’t the battery system having a flaw in it that made the car burn up. In that any car on the road would catch fire after getting cut in half by hitting a pole at a 110 miles on hour.

    Also this car was stolen and in a police chase going 110 miles on hour down residential streets. Most cars are not built for this kind of driving and crashes it’s next to impossible due to the forces.

  5. offib says:

    Oh bollocks!!! This is awful, awful news! Musk is going tohave a bad time, so will TSLA.

    1. offib says:

      This is good reporting, Eric, but I don’t think I could like news like this!

      1. Eric Loveday says:

        Thanks. We try to keep it to just the facts in cases like this.

    2. Weapon says:

      This is awful news, but I don’t see it have any impact on Tesla or the stock. I mean the car was stolen and it is obvious one guy was not even wearing a seat belt.

      1. Rob says:

        It was OBVIOUS???
        I’d love to on what information you based THAT on.

        1. Aaron says:

          The article said he was launched through the windshield. That does NOT happen unless someone isn’t wearing their seatbelt. RTFA.

  6. Leader says:

    I feel bad for the loss of life , senseless,
    However this is not a bad reflection on Tesla at all

    Any car crashed like that would explode and burn

  7. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

    I think we should wait for more details before coming to any conclusions.

    I’d like to know the following:
    – how was the car stolen
    – more details of the collision – what it hit, angle of impact.
    – what started the fire and what burned
    – how the driver died

    This could be bad for Tesla or just neutral.

    1. Thomas says:

      – find the key in the dealership and grab the car would be the easiest way to me


      “A witness told local media that the Tesla slammed into a pole and was split in half. Part of the car reportedly landed on top of another car, and then the fires started. Video of the crash showed that the other half of the of the car crashed into the side of a synagogue, ejecting the driver, who ended up wedged between the wall of the synagogue and the piece of the Model S.”

      – the battery will have burned, I don’t see a way that any battery compartment could survive such impact

      – beeing ejected from the car points towards issues of the driver with a seatbelt, the front of the car seems to be in a reasonable shape

      1. SeattleTeslaGuy says:

        Actually, I was hoping for facts rather than speculation.

  8. Driverguy01 says:

    I hated hearing Elon say no fatalities had occured in a Tesla. It was bound to happen eventually.
    Horrible accident.
    I’m sorry for the family of the driver who lost his life.

    1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      I’m not, I’m just glad that moron didn’t take anyone else out.

      I assume we’ll see/hear about the telemetry later.

      1. Rob says:

        Well said!
        One less piece of car stealing scum to worry about!

    2. Chris O says:

      Guess he could still say no decent people ever died in a Model S crash, but I cringed a little too when I heard Elon say that since clearly a fatality was always just going to be just a matter of time.

      Of course it’s the statistics that count and I’m sure the number of fatalities per mile driven is still a record low with Model S.

      1. Weapon says:

        There is nothing to cringe about, having such a safety record is a GOOD thing. Obviously someone is going to die eventually.(not sure if anyone died here or not due to so many conflicting information that will probably cleared up in time)

        Nothing in the world can make anything 100% safe, but I personally like the notion of companies competing to make cars as safe as possible.

    3. mike w says:

      Well if the driver was ejected from the car then he may have died outside the safety cell of the car so technically Elon’s record stands since the driver probably died “outside” the car.
      Fell sorry for any innocent by-standers who got hurt as a result of this accident.

    4. Weapon says:

      You are feeling sorry for the wrong person. If the person did die(we still don’t know). As unfortunate as it is, they CHOSE their actions of stealing the car, speeding, being reckless, running away from cops and not wearing a seat belt.

      The ones who should be felt sorry for is those innocent people who were law abiding citizens driving around minding their own business only to be crashed into by a maniac. They didn’t chose this, they didn’t deserve this!

      1. anon says:

        I can’t feel sorry for the driver. We were on the road at the time and he came pretty close to hitting us!! I feel fortunate that he missed us and I feel sorry for those whose lives and property were damage by his recklessness.

  9. Nelson says:

    There was another fatal crash yesterday where the car also split in two. Guess it wasn’t a Tesla so the reporter thought car make and model was not necessary to print.

    NPNS! SBF!

  10. Bonaire says:

    This proves the point that the Mexico crash was simply a small cinderblock wall that broke apart and that kept the car together. This was of substantial metal and cement and Teslas do not go through concrete walls at 100mph like some made the Mexico scenario out to be.

    Any jerk running from the cops in any car is going to end badly, this is not anything that should be hyped in the media, but the story does have some shock and awe in it with the fireworks angle they were playing. Gasoline car fires are far more spectacular and rarely reported.

    1. Weapon says:

      It is kind of hard to say though. As I mentioned above. This car was at a Tesla service center. We don’t know why the car was there or what was done to it.

      Example, it is possible the car was partly disassembled when they drove off in it.

    2. JakeY says:

      A cinder block wall is still a concrete wall, so people are not wrong to say the car went through a concrete wall in the Mexican case (because it did).

      In this case, it appears the car got wedged in between two walls, not a direct crash, so the physics are different.

      1. Bonaire says:

        Cinderblock is not concrete in terms of chemistry or strength. The porous nature of cinderblock makes it easier to drive through while maintaining vertical strength. Usually good concrete construction also includes rebar strengthening within.

        1. JakeY says:

          Technically, cinder is a type of concrete:

          Sure, in colloquial usage “concrete” usually refers to something with a stronger aggregate (and typically a solid poured or blocked version sometimes with rebar, rather than hollow blocks). However, at the same time, “cinder block” is used in colloquial usage interchangeably with hollow concrete blocks (which are not made with cinder).

          Also, some cinder block walls have the hollow parts filled with concrete and sometimes with rebar.

          So technically speaking, a cinder block wall (made of actual “cinder”) is still a concrete wall. And in colloquial usage, a concrete block wall (not made of cinder) may still be referred to as a “cinder block” wall.

          Here’s an image of the wall for reference, it’s a block wall, but hard to tell if it’s made from cinder or non-cinder concrete:

  11. Ryan says:

    I don’t believe there is any confirmation there has been a fatality. Seems like a pretty lame headline to post to grab attention, then to quote twitter as a source.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I think given the serious circumstances of the story you are right, we’ll leave the speculation as to the status of the driver in the story alone…this is until we see the police report and can be 100%, just to avoid any confusion.

      Currently as it stands the driver died and then was revived at the scene later and rushed to hospital, but no update since.

      1. Jay Cole says:

        Just as an update…the driver of Tesla Model S has succumbed to his injuries and has died in hospital

  12. Chris O says:

    Tesla+fire = media frenzy. Is it at all possible that people will realize that a fatality is not a particularly unreasonable outcome considering the sort of catastrophic accident this car was in after the guy who stole it tried to outrun the police, especially if it turns out that the guy was in fact ejected from the relative safety of the vehicle because he wasn’t wearing his safety belt?

    I think there is a fair chance.

    1. Big Solar says:

      I think there is an unfair certainty.

    2. Rob says:

      I’m assuming the top seatbelt anchor is on the B post. It isn’t clear how much damage the B post sustained in the accident. OR how much damage the seat sustained either. It is quite feasible that during the accident, the top seatbelt mounting was damaged, and/or the seat itself was damaged and/or the seat mountings were damaged. Any one of these events, added to the fact that momentum could have thrown the driver backwards either over or through the back of the seat and then out of the car. All seatbelts are designed to support the body being thrown forwards in an impact. Only a full racing harness and bucket seat support the body ‘any which way’.

  13. ffbj says:

    There have been loads of commentary about the destructiveness of high speed pursuits, imo they are simply not worth it. Of course the thieves are ultimately the ones at fault, but they are fools and clearly will act like fools if you chase them. Also being a Tesla it is easily tracked,so perhaps a do not pursue order if a Tesla is stolen would be in order, but that is not likely to happen, as the mentality of hot pursuit is so ingrained in cops psyche. I call it the French Connection syndrome. Not sure how the car was jacked or stolen, but if from the dealership I would enhance security at the that dealership and all others.

    1. Chris O says:

      Maybe the cops need better instructions. Couldn’t they just call Tesla to turn off the car?

    2. Suprise Cat says:

      It is a totally irresponsible act from the police to do a speed chase inside a town.

  14. ffbj says:

    There might be some way to brick the car if it’s stolen. Like the one guy that had the car slow down and he pulled over as instructed.
    So the screen would this car has been reported stolen you have 15 seconds to authenticate or the vehicle will cease to operate. Or maybe it just slows it down gradually to a crawl. Since if you are on the freeway it could be dangerous to just brick the car. Of course almost any danger would not result in nearly as much catastrophic damage as occurred in this case.

  15. Thomas J. Thias says:

    Quoting Mr. Musk of Tesla Motors from The Tesla Blog: “The Mission Of Tesla”

    Nov. 18 2013

    “[…] How Does the Tesla Model S Fire Risk Compare to Gasoline Cars?

    Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data).

    However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined.

    The media coverage of Model S fires vs. gasoline car fires is disproportionate by several orders of magnitude, despite the latter actually being far more deadly.

    Reading the headlines, it is therefore easy to assume that the Tesla Model S and perhaps electric cars in general have a greater propensity to catch fire than gasoline cars when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Journalists with a deep knowledge of the car industry, such as the news editor of Automotive News, understand and attempt to rebut this notion, but they have been drowned out by an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false.

    I would also like to express appreciation for the investigative journalists who took the time to research and write an accurate article.[…]”

    Link And Quote From Tesla Blog, Nov. 28, 2013-


    Thomas J. Thias

  16. Thomas J. Thias says:

    Eric, please follow up on this with big healdine-


    Two Die In SF After High-Speed Chase Of stolen BMW
    SFGate – ‎Jun 25, 2014‎


    Thomas J. Thias

  17. Kosh says:

    Well, I’m glad the paramedics revived the car thief so that we could pay his medical bills, then pay for a costly trial, then pay for his incarceration for years…..

    1. Boris says:

      He will not pay for his medical bills and he will likely cause someone else’s death in future, that’s the reality…

  18. jmac says:

    Some day… Some where… Some one …

    !. Will have sex in a Tesla.

    2. Have a minor accident in a Tesla.

    3. Have a major accident in a Tesla.

    4. Smoke a cigar in a Tesla.


  19. Volt says:

    Ejected from the car? Clearly wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

    Still no deaths in a Model S since he got ejected from it. What a dummy.

  20. Anon says:

    I think the next firmware update may have “Remote Stolen / Slow Mode Until Authenticated” included… 😉

    1. Bonaire says:

      In the 10 minutes during the chase, how easily would it have been to contact Tesla, get the correct Vin #, initiate remote disablement and collect the suspect? In some cases, the cop may not even know the brand name of the vehicle let alone who at the company to contact. Does Tesla even have a 24/7 IT help desk for police to call into in this rare circumstance? Probably not yet. Put yourself in the cops shoes. Until they can remotely shut down the car through some sort of laser-based technology of direct sight, it is rare that they could do much in the short time of the chase. Especially after the first officers were injured early in the chase.

      1. Anon says:

        The theft occurred At A TESLA FACILITY. If the remote theft feature were implemented, the car would have been turtled way before anyone got hurt, including pursuing officers.

  21. Dcee says:

    There’s a lot of white smoke. Is it coming from a gasoline-drenched Tesla battery?

  22. MDEV says:

    This was a horrible accident, of course a fire will occur even if the car fuel is ICE.

  23. Dcee says:

    In the video, from 0:10 to 0:15, several large flaming embers pop up from the flaming car, and arc across the street. They resemble fireworks. Which car are they coming from? Need better video and post-mortem analysis.

    1. JakeY says:

      Looks like it’s coming from a different ICE car that caught in the back. The Model S is the one on fire with “turbine” wheels in the front of the white car.

      1. Bonaire says:

        JakeY, the last picture above on this page obviously shows the battery undergoing full venting with flame. And bystanders talked about firework-style issues with parts flaming. But so what? We all know the Tesla cell chemistry is made with energy dense cells which do have venting with flame as a known issue in terms of catastrophic damage. The car was cut in half. The pack was surely the most damaged Tesla accident to date. This is a normal high speed accident with a car. I don’t consider this a real problem but we have to all agree that the tesla pack can burn in this way if the car is cut in half. My one issue with venting with flame is this. If an EV of any type crashes into an ICE car, then the gas tank leaks, an EV can actually be the cause of a fire in the accident scene that may not have caught fire if a rare venting with flame incident did not happen. This one example here is a rare occurrence and should not cause any alarm. But get ready for the Fox News cackling to call this out a danger inherent to EVs.

        1. JakeY says:

          I don’t think it’s a serious problem either, but I’m just talking about what I observe in the video.

          The embers that popped up seems to come from behind the white car, while the Model S is in front of the white car. It’s unclear how many cars were involved (I think so far it’s clear the white Honda was involved and reports say another car) and which car the “fireworks” came from. It could still be stuff spilled from the Model S, but it’s clearly behind the white car.

  24. Taser54 says:

    Both a fatality and a fire. I expect Musk and some commenters to be more measured in discussing this incident.

    1. JakeY says:

      No fatality yet. The media thought the guy died, but he was revived on the way to the hospital.

      As for fire, I don’t think anyone would blink an eye if it was an ICE car in similar circumstances (I’ve seen plenty of cars split in half and on fire form Jalopnik, the most high profile is the Carrera GT with Paul
      Walker in it, but there’s also plenty of Lamborghinis and Ferraris).

    2. Volt says:

      The guy wasnt wearing a fuggin seatbelt clearly he would have been less injured if he was wearing it and he didnt die, surprisingly and unfortunately for him.

    3. TeV says:

      Okay Taser54, you’ve been called out as a troll and a LIAR, yet again. Care to dispute that?

      Didn’t think so. LIAR.

      1. Taser54 says:

        I think you should step back and reread the comment. My comment directly addressed how lightly Musk and commenters should tread on this matter.

        At the time I posted it was reported as a fatality, the EMS revived the driver and NOW he assumed to be in critical condition.

        My post simply said that Musk and other commenters should be measured in their response.

        Unfortunately, you have the simple-minded respond to resort to name-calling in a post you disagree with.

        In the past Musk crowed that there was no serious injury or fatality- which was arrogant as it was only a matter of time before it occurred. I’m happy to see that at least Tesla is taking a measured approach to responding to this, perhaps you should do the same.

  25. John90 says:

    Kudos to Honda, a small, cheap compact car and it didn’t burst into flames like the Tesla did.

    That fire in the Model S was outrageous.

    1. Anon says:

      If the Honda was the car being chased, no one would have been left in one piece to revive. The compact you foolishly praise, would have become much more “compact” and also burned / exploded. 😛

      1. Aaron says:

        Amazingly, this happened in April:

        Sure enough, the Honda was split in two and both occupants were killed.

        1. Jesse Gurr says:

          Actually, there were 3 occupants in that story. Two of them died, back seat passenger and the driver. The front passenger survived with a broken clavicle and a concussion.

    2. JakeY says:

      Like Anon said, if you swapped the role of the Model S and the Civic, the results would likely be a lot worse for the Civic. You are saying things like a gasoline car would not have caught on fire if put in a similar situation.

    3. Volt says:

      ya kudos to the honda that got knicked by the tesla and still got f*cked up LMAO get out of here

      lets see how that honda would hold up going 100+ and hitting a pole just like the tesla did, would have been even worse

      that porsche carrera gt got torn the fuq up when roger rodas hit it speeding close to 100 as well and got him and paul walker killed.

      Cars arent designed to withstand impacts at law breaking speeds because we have these things called speed limits to prevent serious injuries and collisions like these smh

    4. TeV says:

      So John90, are you just another loudmouth anti-EV troll with lots of opinions but zero actual knowledge – or do you have something meaningful to add to the conversation?

      (If you’re a shill for the oil industry, don’t reply.

      …thought so.)

      #gas_kills #anti-ev_troll

  26. Bloggin says:

    100+mph sideways into a telephone/power pole and anything would be split in half.

    If it was an ICE vehicle made of lesser materials and it would have been worse.

  27. El Prasito says:


    This guy had a death wish and chose a Tesla to go to Valhalla. Poor choice: an ICE car (like a Porsche *hint*) would have taken him there…

    /end of sarcasm

  28. Benji888578 says:

    ALL street vehicles need to be limited to 90mph. There is absolutely no reason for going faster than 90. “Speed Kills” is not just a saying. This could have happened with any car that goes fast easily. Driving is a privilege, not a right, so don’t give me no crap for this. I’m tired of how much crap people get away with on the road. There is NO appreciation for the ability to travel faster than on foot. Try walking or running for all your travel before you make any comments about my comment here.

    The car was split because the car goes fast and idiots were driving it, likely on alcohol or drugs.

    I will say it again “Speed Kills” is not just a saying.

    I also would like to see this covered as one of all the fatal car wrecks from this weekend, and I’m sure the others were all worse (if they were doing the same thing). (A gas car damaged like this would have likely exploded. OH, by the way, if it was a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle or natural gas, it most definitely would have exploded, as those have tanks with higher pressure than gas tanks, and are more dangerous.).

  29. Foo says:

    Reportedly this guy wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The fact that he was killed in a high-speed car crash that destroyed the car really has nothing to do with Tesla.

    You can’t expect ANYbody, in ANY car, who crashes into ANYthing at this kind of speed to survive, or at least not be horribly injured.