TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The U.S. government’s road safety agency is sending a special team to Indiana to investigate a fatal crash involving a Tesla electric vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday that its team will check the crash scene and inspect the Model 3 vehicle involved in the Dec. 29 crash with a parked firetruck on Interstate 70 near Terre Haute.
Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Matt Ames confirmed NHTSA is looking into the crash; however, he noted ISP will continue its own investigation.
A passenger in the vehicle, Jenna Monet, 23, of Prescott Valley, Ariz. was killed in the crash. Her husband, Derrick N. Money, 25, who was behind the wheel, was also seriously injured.
Police ruled out drugs and alcohol as a possible factor in the crash.
According to Ames, it is not yet known if the autopilot function on the Tesla was in use at the time of the crash.
Autopilot was designed to keep a car in its lane and a safe distance from other vehicles. Autopilot also can change lanes on its own.
Tesla has said repeatedly that its Autopilot system is designed only to assist drivers, who must still pay attention and be ready to intervene at all times. The company contends that Teslas with Autopilot are safer than vehicles without it, but cautions that the system does not prevent all crashes.
The crash is the second fatal crash to be investigated in the past two weeks by NHTSA.
Also on Dec. 29, a Tesla Model S sedan left a freeway in Gardena, California, at a high speed, ran a red light and struck a Honda Civic, killing two people inside, police said. The agency dispatched its special crash investigation unit to the site on New Year’s Eve.
Also, on Dec. 7, yet another Model 3 struck a police cruiser on a Connecticut highway, though no one was hurt. NHTSA also is investigating that crash.