The quick reactions of a 23-year-old passenger in a Tesla that was veering out of control likely prevented other vehicles from suffering personal and property damage.
Three members of a Fremont family were driving west on Highway 237 in California on Saturday morning about 10:45 a.m. The 55-year-old driver and father of the family, who apparently experienced a diabetic attack, lost consciousness behind the wheel. Although he was incapable of responding to driving conditions, the father continued to maintain his foot on the accelerator. Assessing the situation from the back seat of the Tesla, the son realized that he must intervene. He released his own seat belt, reached over the front seat, and grabbed the steering wheel.
At that point, the Tesla’s speed exceeded 80 miles per hour.
The poised son attempted to maneuver the car through a right curve but was unable to keep the car on the road. Instead, the Tesla abutted the left side of the Zanker Road off-ramp. In quick succession, with the driver still passed out, the Tesla ping-ponged between the on-ramp and the off-ramp, never finding stability on either. The vehicle then launched over the on-ramp and into an adjacent field, where it eventually came to rest.
The California Highway Patrol responded to emergency calls regarding the accident. A report from Officer Ryan Fifield on scene indicates that the driver broke his back. His 50-year-old wife, seated in the front passenger seat, suffered a broken left wrist and broken right ankle. The son has a broken left arm and broken pelvis. The three family members received treatment at Regional Medical Center.
The CHP did not release the names of the victims.
It does seem likely, however, that the son’s ability to evaluate the situation and respond with measured steps saved the crash from being more serious and from involving additional vehicles.