Teens were traveling more than 100 mph before fatal Tesla crash, report says

Federal investigators found electric battery reignited twice after initial fire

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Federal investigators released their initial findings Tuesday on a fatal car crash in Fort Lauderdale last month. The Tesla carrying three teenagers was traveling at 116 mph just seconds before impact, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report.

Barrett Riley, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, was driving along the 1300 block of Seabreeze Boulevard on May 8 when he lost control of his car. The Tesla Model S sedan crashed into a wall and caught fire, killing Riley and his front seat passenger Edgar Monserratt, 18, of Aventura.

A back seat passenger, Alexander Berry, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, was thrown from the car and survived.

Monserratt and Riley were seniors at Pine Crest School and just days away from graduation. Riley was preparing to attend Purdue University and Monserratt was headed to Babson College.

Using data from the Tesla's internal sensors, the NTSB found that Riley hit the brakes just before impact, but there wasn't enough time to slow down. He had only slowed the electric-powered car in three seconds from 116 mph to 86 mph, the report said.

The South Florida SunSentinel had reported that Riley got a 112 mph speeding ticket in March and that his father attempted to change the settings on the Tesla so it could not travel over 85 mph.

 

Barrett Riley (left) and Edgar Monserratt, seniors who were preparing to graduate from the Pine Crest School, were killed in a Fort Lauderdale crash.

Tesla said the company is dedicating its new speed limiting feature in the latest software update to Riley.

Monserratt and Riley were both wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, the report found.

Residents call the stretch of Seabreeze Boulevard "dead man's curve." The posted speed limits are 25 and 30 mph.

The NTSB also found that the Tesla's lithium ion battery, which was the source of the fire, reignited twice -- as police transported the car away from the crash scene and again when investigators tried to remove the battery from the burned-out remains of the vehicle.

In a previous statement, Tesla defended its electric-powered cars, saying high-speed collisions can cause fires in both gas and electric vehicles.

   

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