The Tesla driver who hit an elderly care worker at a streetcar station amid claims her electric car was on autopilot has now placed the blame on the streetcar driver.
Sakshi Agrawal, 24, allegedly encountered an elderly care worker trying to board a tram on Watertree Road, Armadale, in south-east Melbourne at 6.30am in March last year.
The victim, 26-year-old Nicole Lagos, sustained horrific injuries in the accident that left her in a critical condition at Alfred Hospital.
Agrawal turned herself in to the police after escaping from the accident.
She was arrested, then taken to the scene in handcuffs.
Sakshi Agrawal (pictured second on the right) was returned to the scene in handcuffs after his arrest in March last year.
Agrawal appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday charged with driving in a dangerous manner causing serious injury, failing to stop at the scene and failing to provide assistance, and negligently causing serious injury.
During a hearing in May, the court heard, Agrawal had put her $68,000 Tesla Model 3 on “autopilot” when it allegedly hit a pedestrian.
It remains unclear whether Agrawal is upholding this defense, with the media being denied access to all documents except for the charge sheets by Judge Natalie Haines.
Agrawal is in the process of a pre-trial hearing at which several witnesses are expected to be called.
On Monday, Agrawal’s lawyer, Gwan Paul, questioned the 35-year-old veteran tram driver, accusing him of failing to follow the Yara Trams rulebook when it came to how to stop the tram on the morning of the accident.
The driver told the court that he followed the correct procedures.
But when asked, the driver said he probably didn’t check the mirrors before opening the tram doors.
“You didn’t check the mirrors, because if you did… you would have seen a vehicle go by and the doors wouldn’t open,” Mrs. Ball suggested.
The driver replied, “I don’t accept that… I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
The driver claimed he turned on the tram’s hazard lights before stopping completely to pick up Ms. Lagos, who caught the hearing on Monday via video link.
Police photos taken at the site of an alleged hit-and-run in Melbourne in March
The tram driver told the court that he had not received any additional training since becoming a driver 35 years ago and had no idea about the rulebook published by Yarra Trams in 2017.
“One such rule is that before opening the doors, drivers must check all mirrors to ensure that the immediate area is clear of moving vehicles,” Mrs. Ball told him.
You accept that this is the way it is supposed to be done, but that is not what was done on this occasion.
While the driver said he did not remember the exact details of what had happened that morning, he was sure he would have checked traffic before opening the tram doors.
“I would have done it at the time,” he said.
‘it was dark. It was 6.30am and the lights were on. And it was very dark at the station … I must have looked in the mirror and God only knows who did the wrong thing there, but I did what I did as a tram driver.
Ms. Paul further suggested that the tram driver opened the tram doors after Lagos was already bombed.
The driver replied, “The passenger was walking toward the tram after the doors opened.”
“I was stopped… When the doors opened, the passenger started walking.”
The tram driver claimed that Agrawal was traveling so fast that he didn’t even realize Lagos was hit.
Something had passed and I was wondering “what the hell is this”. There she was, 10 seconds into the tram ride and she was missing.
Agrawal’s partner (pictured) told Channel 9 that she panicked and was going back to the scene
The driver also denied accusations that he opened the tram’s doors before it came to a complete stop.
has been suspended. The tram was stopped and I was waiting for the passenger to arrive.
The safety director of Yara Trams told the court that the door of the tram could not be opened while it was in motion.
At the time of the accident, Agrawal’s allegations to Victoria Police about her car’s autopilot were reported to be the first time Australian major collision officers had investigated a case involving a Tesla.
Autopilot is a driver assistance system for Tesla cars that allows the car to automatically steer, accelerate and brake within its lane.
The system still requires drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their hands on the steering wheel.
Detective Staff Sergeant Jarrod Dwyer, of the Collision Investigation Major Unit, said it was still relatively dark when the car hit Ms. Lagos, dragging her between 15 and 20 metres.
He said Agrawal panicked after the collision and left the scene, but returned shortly after with a friend.
Sergeant Dwyer said she expressed remorse when she returned to the scene with the police and was “very hysterical”.
Agrawal’s partner, who returned with her to the scene, said the collision was “just a normal accident, it happens every day”.
She was coming back anyway. “She was a little scared,” he said.
Agrawal was granted bail although the police objected to this as it could be a fleeing risk.
The 24-year-old is in the country on a temporary visa and is neither an Australian citizen nor a permanent resident.
The hearing continues
Tesla is recalling self-driving software on 54,000 cars after it allowed them to turn on stop lights
By Ryan Morrison for DAILYMAIL.COM
Tesla recalled nearly 54,000 cars and SUVs in January because its fully self-driving software allowed them to roll through stop lights without stopping completely.
Documents released by US safety regulators said the company disabled the feature with an online software update.
The feature, which has been tested by a number of drivers, allows vehicles to pass through intersections with a stop sign at speeds of up to 9 kilometers per hour.
The documents said Tesla agreed to the recall after two meetings with officials from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Tesla said it is not aware of any malfunctions or injuries caused by the feature, and there are no warranty claims as a result of issues with the startup feature.
Selected Tesla drivers pilot the full self-driving program, but must keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.
The company said cars cannot drive themselves and drivers must be ready to take action at all times.