A Tesla employee and Elon Musk superfan may have become the first person to die in cash caused by the company’s self-driving technology, an investigation claims.
Hans von Ohain, 33, died in a fiery crash in Colorado in 2022 after his Tesla swerved violently off a winding country road.
Although the young father had been drinking before the fatal crash, detectives expanded their investigation into the death after it became clear that this was no ordinary drunk driving case.
“Regardless of how drunk Hans was, Musk has claimed that this car can drive itself and is essentially better than a human,” von Ohain’s widow, Nora Bass, told the newspaper. Washington Post.
“We were sold a false sense of security.”
Hans von Ohain (left), 33, died in a fiery crash in Colorado in 2022 after his Tesla swerved violently off a winding country road.
Von Ohain’s Tesla Model 3 crashed into a tree as he and a friend returned from a round of golf, killing the young father in a fireball while his passenger barely escaped with his life.
The vehicle had allegedly veered erratically earlier in the day, which von Ohain allegedly said “happens from time to time” in his electric car.
Tesla has touted its autonomous driving technology, Full Self-Driving, as the solution to the 40,000 annual deaths on US roads each year.
But the company insists that it is still in its testing phase and is constantly learning how to navigate new road conditions, including the winding country roads where von Ohain lost his life.
The 33-year-old, a former Marine, was returning from an afternoon of golf with a friend when the accident occurred, which the other passenger said occurred after the car had already been driving erratically on its own.
Erik Rossiter, the only other person involved in the accident but who survived, said the electric vehicle had previously swerved on the road, causing the recruiter to grab the steering wheel several times as they headed to the golf course.
“The first time it happened, I thought, ‘Is that normal?'” he recalled asking von Ohain, describing the ride as “uncomfortable.”
“And he said, ‘Yeah, that happens from time to time.'”
Von Ohain’s Tesla Model 3 crashed into a tree just hours later, killing the young father in a fireball while Rossiter barely escaped with his life.
In a 911 call heard by the Washington Post, Rossiter told 911 that von Ohain was “using a self-driving feature on the Tesla” that “just went off the road.”
In particular, the full self-driving system is different from normal self-driving and is designed to fully navigate from point A to B, while self-driving is only designed for situations like on a highway.
Rossiter told investigators he believes they were using full autonomous driving, which would make von Ohain’s death the first caused by this experimental technology.
Von Ohain was described as a “devoted father to his little Ray” (pictured together) and an “incredible husband, dedicated Marine and best friend to many.”
Automakers have been required to report accidents involving driver assistance systems since 2021, and in that time there have been more than 900 accidents involving Tesla.
This included at least 40 that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities, according to the Washington Post analysis.
While most involved Autopilot, von Ohain’s may have been a rare case of a fully self-driving accident, and another driver reportedly blamed the technology for an eight-car crash on the Bay Bridge of San Francisco-Oakland in 2022.
After von Ohain’s horror accident, an autopsy found he had a blood alcohol level of 0.26, more than three levels over the legal limit.
However, while investigators may have concluded that his intoxication affected his ability to control the car, Colorado State Patrol officers also examined the vehicle’s navigation systems.