Tesla Model S Gets Wrecked: Owner Says Vehicle Saved His Life (Images – Owner Testimonial)

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 49

Wrecked Model S - Image Copyright:

Wrecked Model S – Image Copyright: Joe Dovi

The NHTSA says it and Model S owners (at least those involved in a collision) agree…the Tesla Model S is safe…damn safe.

One fiery Model S doesn’t suggest to us that the vehicle is unsafe.

However, owner testimonials (including the one from the fiery Model S) almost unanimously agree that there’s no safer place to be if involved in a vehicular accident, than behind the wheel of a Model S.

Here we tell the story of Joe Dovi, a Tesla Model S owner who InsideEVs contacted directly in regards to an unfortunate accident he was involved in that we relayed to us via the Tesla Motors Club.

Wrecked Model S : Image Copyright -

Wrecked Model S – Image Copyright: Joe Dovi

Dovi explains the event as follows:

“[October 4th], I was in a terrible car accident with my beloved Model S. I was hit by a driver who was talking on her cell phone and blew a red light. I got slammed at full speed while passing through an intersection. I was lucky enough to walk away with no broken bones while the person who hit me left in an ambulance.”

Dovi adds this:

“I can tell you with absolute certainty, my Model S protected me where other cars would have failed. This recent story of the car being unsafe due to a battery fire is ridiculous. My car did not so much as smoke, and not a drop of liquid was released.”

Wrecked Model S - Image Copyright:

Wrecked Model S – Image Copyright: Joe Dovi

Dovi continues, stating:

“The car hit me with such force I cannot describe the G’s I felt, but miraculously the other car literally bounced off, spun around, and hit me AGAIN in the rear. My car slid into a grass median while the other one wound up on the other side of the road facing the opposite direction. They had no chance against the Model S, it was remarkable.”

“I was a bit surprised that the air bags did not deploy in my car (the other car’s did). Then again, my body made no contact with the interior of the car so apparently the air bags were not needed”

“Tesla called my home shortly afterwards saying that they received multiple alarms from the car and wanted to make sure I was ok. They picked up my car free of charge and transported it 50 miles to the nearest service center. They are also arranging a loaner Model S. Can I ask for more”

But it’s this statement by Dovi that most accurately conveys how he feels of the Model S:

“This is the safest car on the road hands down, and for me, I can say honestly say it saved my life. Thank you Elon…”

[Writer wipes tears aside]

Within days, Dovi got his Model S loaner, a white P85:

Loaner Arrives

Loaner Arrives – Image Copyright: Joe Dovi

Oh the joys of owning a Model S…where’s my P85 loaner, I seem to have wrecked my Tesla lunchbox

Whether or not the Model S truly saved Dovi’s life is not important.  The Model S prevented injury to Dovi in a serious wreck.  Speculating on whether or not this could/would be a fatal wreck in a lesser vehicle is not the point.

Bringing true life stories like this to the public’s attention (especially after the negative press from the recent Model S fire) is what we do.

The Model S is safe...we say so…the NHTSA agrees…and Model S owners know that statement to be true from first hand experience.

More photos of wrecked Model S below (all photos copyright: Joe Dovi)

vis Tesla Motors Club


*Special thanks to Joe Dovi for allowing us to present his story (along with the spectacular images) to our readers.

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49 responses to "Tesla Model S Gets Wrecked: Owner Says Vehicle Saved His Life (Images – Owner Testimonial)"

  1. Duvanni says:

    Cool license plate!

  2. Nelson says:

    If the Police did their job and pulled over every person using a cell phone while driving, less cell phone related accidents would occur.
    1. May I see your licenses, registration, insurance and cell phone?
    2. Look at the recent call history for calls received or dialed.
    3. Note time and duration of last call.
    4. Warning if call was less than one minute, otherwise Ticket for using a cell phone while driving.


    1. Spec says:

      Be sure to look at texts as well.

      1. Aaron says:

        This morning, someone texting and driving was swerving around like crazy. I got ahead of her, then we stopped at a red light. I noticed she was STILL texting, glancing up every 5 seconds or so to see if my car moved.

        When the light turned green, I stayed still. She glanced up 3 times before realizing we were ALONE at the intersection! It took almost 15 seconds! I motioned for her to drop the phone, and wagged my finger (not the middle one), and took off.

        Hopefully she got the idea before she kills someone, or herself.

    2. David Murray says:

      Sorry, this sounds a bit like tyranny to me. And there is nothing illegal about talking on a cell phone while driving in most municipalities. Even if it were, that would be search and seizure and they would need probably cause to do that.

      1. Aatheus says:

        It is in California. Talking on, texting, or looking at your phone while the vehicle is in motion is illegal. This is in addition to the laws against driving in an unsafe manner. Just look at the pictures above for what can happen.

        1. Eletruk says:

          It is also a traffic infraction in Washington state. Meaning they can pull you over if they see you do it. Also probable cause applies, covering the 4th amendment.

    3. UAVGeek says:

      4th Amendment anyone?

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Yes, the story is also at Tesla Motors club. Thanks Doug. We did contact Joe (the owner) directly about telling his story at InsideEVs, as we are aware of the sensitive nature surrounding it.

      Thankfully he wanted to get the word out that the Model S is a incredibly safe car, (=

      1. doug says:

        It’s not also at TMC, you guys lifted the quotes from there.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Hey Doug, I sent you an email on the story (hopefully the one you list here is correct),

          We are happy to add a credit to TMC on airing Joe’s words first – we would like to actually, there is potentially an issue doing it though (sourcing) that we want to clear up…there seems to be a lot of riders now at TMC to not use quotes posted there and we are trying to respect that.

          That is why we got in touch with the Model S owner directly to get permission to use his words ourselves.

          1. Jay Cole says:

            Thanks for the email reply Doug.

            I think we are all good now/ok to source from the Tesla Motor Club. I have noted where Joe first made these comments at TMC, with our thanks to the forum. (which everyone who loves Tesla should check out btw, lol)

        2. Sausage says:

          Oh boo hoo. Welcome to the internet.

  3. Ocean Railroader says:

    I would really like to see how trashed the other car got in this wreak to compare the two of them.

  4. Francis L says:

    Even if the Tesla is a pretty secure car, it doesn’t solve the real problem : cars are the worst transportation in term of security. It is 100 to 1000 times more dangerous than buses, trains and planes.

    Moreover, I hope that EV won’t ever be cheaper to use than ICE today, or with more people on the road, it will just become worst. Hopefully, self-driving cars may help to solve parts of this problem (like stopping at red lights, for instance…)

    1. MDEV says:

      Nothing is safer as stay at home

      1. Francis L says:

        That’s not the point…

        And I’m not even sure if staying at home is safer than being on a plane!

      2. Aaron says:

        Didn’t you see the Dish Network commercials? The kitchen is a death trap! The tree house is even worse! You’re gonna die if you hide under a queen-sized bed in the guest room!!!!!! Oh noes!!1111!!11!one!!!

        1. Jamaica says:

          The “one” was a beautiful touch! 🙂

    2. EV says:

      “worst transport” i lol’d

  5. ken says:

    I think owner has to pay heavy insurance payment because of expensive loss but it is better compare to human life.

  6. Jesse Gurr says:

    According to the Tesla Motors thread, the other car was a Hyundai Elantra. It also looks like it was leaking fluids like the wounded animal that it was.

    1. Steven says:

      Being a former owner of a Hyundai Elantra, (’02 GT) my only response tho that is OUCH.

  7. Lad says:

    All street cars should have roll cages, five way harnesses and the drivers should wear helmets.

    1. vdiv says:

      Helmets and heavy mittens too. That would at least discourage us a bit from using a freakin’ cell phone while driving…

      Thankfully everyone was OK this time.

      1. Hannah says:


  8. Dan Frederiksen says:

    That doesn’t look like a serious crash though. When no airbags deployed there was probably very few g’s felt.

    1. io says:

      Agreed. While I’m sure it felt spectacular, is looks like the other car only hit the front. Sure that side is trashed, but not even that deeply: the frunk looks untouched. Doors, windows are all intact, airbags didn’t go off…

      Pretty sure any modern car would have fared just as well.

      1. Joe says:

        Actually, the inside of the frunk compartment is deformed. Additionally, the rear facing seats are crooked. The car will likely be totaled

  9. Spec says:

    No airbags going off is a bit weird. Perhaps it was because they got hit on the side such that lateral acceleration doesn’t set them off. But I would think some side impact airbags might go off . . . but maybe it doesn’t have any of those.

    Love the “GBYE GAS” license plate!

    1. Joe says:

      Thanks, my wife came up with that 🙂

    2. jamminrio says:

      I think the airbags didn’t go off because the wheel took most of the initial impact and there may only be sensors at the doors, front and back.

      1. Jamaica says:

        Airbags are precisely tested to only go off when a threshold at a certain angle is passed. This accident was no doubt severe enough to trigger “multiple alarms”, but not severe enough to trigger the airbags. I’m not worried.

  10. Justin W. says:

    While I’m glad to see the driver of the Tesla was unharmed, the picture is much less impressive than Caroline’s demolished Volt. 🙂 http://insideevs.com/video-owner-testimonial-shows-how-safe-chevy-volt-actually-is/

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      I’m amazed every time I see that Volt crash photo. Now that is a crash.

  11. George B says:

    Amazing, thanks for sharing. Glad to hear that the owner was able to walk away from the accident unharmed.

  12. Kent says:

    So Tesla gives a free loaner to anybody who’s Tesla is in an accident? I see Mr. Dovi has the top-of-the-line P85, but if I had the most basic 60 model, would I get the same treatment? If so, I may be tempted to go for the most basic model.

    1. Joe says:

      I don’t think it’s their policy to hand out loaners but I asked and they had it available so they accommodated me. It’s very generous of them as it was not expected.

  13. Gary says:

    This is is a non-story. Most new cars now come with 5-Star crash ratings, Top Safety Pick, blah, blah. There was the sensational story from a few weeks back with a Model S that crashed into a Honda Accord, and the Accord lost badly.

    Of course, it wasn’t really emphasized that the Accord was from the Early 90s. Any car over 20 years old will do poorly in an accident.

    That’s the problem with “news stories” nowadays; it’s all distilled and missing important facts to fit into a 140-odd character Tweet that is designed to be retweeted by the masses.


    1. Steven says:

      It’s only a non-story to us, because we know what kind of car the S is. To the sensation seeking media ( I’m looking at you FOX ) the lead will be photos of the damaged cars, Look what this horrible electric car did to the poor little Hyundai… We need to nip it in the bud.

  14. jon doe says:

    Turning a negative incident into a positive is quite a feat. If only the Volt could have pulled the same stunt. I guess with the Volt a person could not say it saved his life, because the passenger was long gone, but yet received loads of negatives from the media. I guess Tesla can do no wrong…..only positives.
    I never heard any news of this on the major networks I wonder how much this incident cost Tesla to keep it under wraps? . It’s just to show how unfair the media can be.

    1. jon doe says:

      After reading better I see this article is not about the Tesla that burnt, about a week ago. None-the-less, I feel Tesla can do no wrong in the public eyes.

  15. Mark says:

    I wonder if the driver would have been as lucky if he was broadsided on his drivers door rather than the side frunk?

  16. Brent Handel says:

    TWO side impacts to the Tesla front and rear and the curtain airbags did not go off! There is definitely a defect here. Any side impact should set off the torso side air bag and the curtain air bag. It does not require a hit to the side door to set it off as any side impact has the occupants moving in the opposite direction of the impact and thus you need the curtain air bag or you will hit your head on the side window.

    I was thinking about getting a Tesla, but I will hold off now until they get this defect fixed.

    It is amazing that some people are using this collision as proof the Tesla is the safest car ever made. What it proves is that it has a safety defect. Elon Musk will have to address this in a hurry.

  17. Pat says:

    “I was a bit surprised that the air bags did not deploy”

    That sounds like a flaw. Any impact that can leave a car in the state shown in these photos should trigger the airbags. I am glad he was unhurt.

  18. Greg Spence says:

    My Dear Herr Frederiksen, I bid you a good day Sir.
    Resolved by Herr Frederiksen: “…That doesn’t look like a serious crash though. When no airbags deployed there was probably very few g’s felt.”
    Have you not seen the photographs Sir? Are you familiar with modern unibody design and construction? Are you familiar with modern SRS systems? No? I didn’t think so.
    Resolved: This was indeed a high energy, high load impact. Two vehicles came together at a very high rate of closure (speed) and then suddenly decelerated to nearly no closure rate. That by definition alone would result in a high G event.
    The evidence in the photographs alone support this, as if you look closely you will see the left apron and upper rail are ripped away from the vehicle, having taken the left front suspension with it. Further along the left side and left rear side of the vehicle we see that the left unibody outer panels have been crushed and deformed to a degree where surely the inner unibody structure is likely compromised as well. This does not happen in a low speed low velocity incident.
    Speaking of velocity, let’s talk about the mysterious un-deployed airbag.
    Modern SRS (Supplemental Restraint Systems a/k/a airbags) are more than just a balloon that inflates when you have an accident. They are indeed an entire system of components that work together to protect the passengers. The common belief is that if you crash, your airbag will deploy. This is simply not true. Airbag systems are designed and believe it or not legislated to a degree, to operate within a range of speeds and dynamic conditions. Unlike lab tests where a vehicle is directed into a stationary barrier, a motor vehicle accident includes dynamic elements all of which can impact SRS performance. Some systems will shut off if the detect a small child based on weight and height detected by seat sensors and seat belt height adjuster sensors. Another example, in a lab when a car hits a concrete block the velocity of the impact is basically static followed by rapid deceleration and there are no other aggravating factors to influence the dynamics of the vehicle, the concrete block, or just as important, the vehicles sensory systems. Now, take the same tests to the road, real time real world and a host of other variables come into play.
    On impact vehicles to to move and change direction which could influence the input recorded by a sensory device. Was the impact in the area of a sensor? Was the sensor harness destroyed on impact? Lots of questions here. Also vehicles – unlike concrete blocks – will absorb and deflect energy, meaning that the velocity of the impact does not change as rapidly or drastically as it would in a controlled lab test against a concrete block. Again this change in sensory input could affect system performance. Bottom line, air bags are not intended to deploy in all crashes. That being said, in an event such as Mr. Dovi’s it is very likely other SRS system components such as the seat belt, seat belt pretensioner and belt buckle, did deploy and performed exactly as they were designed and intended to, which in concert with this particular cars design and construction, would explain why he walked away from this accident unscathed. Airbags be damned. Good Day Herr Herr Frederiksen. Until we meet again.

  19. Tesla Fans says:

    His airbags don’t deploy and he thinks it’s normal.

    why do Tesla fans seem to be so stupid..