MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Kan. — Terry L. Siegel, a 74-year-old man from Lake Winnebago, Kan., tragically died Feb. 27 after the Tesla he was driving broke down on Interstate 70 in Independence.
Local authorities said the crash happened at about 8:15 p.m. on westbound I-70, west of Little Blue Parkway.
A preliminary investigation suggests that a mechanical unit caused the electronic vehicle to lose power in the center lane, where it was struck by two other vehicles that could not avoid impact.
Siegel was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Emergency response personnel transported a passenger from his vehicle to a local hospital to treat injuries. None of the other drivers and passengers suffered injuries.
All persons involved were reportedly wearing safety belts when the collisions occurred. Additionally, none of the drivers are believed to have been impaired.
An investigation into the crash is ongoing. No additional information was immediately available.
Commentary on the fatal Tesla accident in Montgomery County, Kansas
The law seeks to remedy innocent victims by compensating them for the losses sustained due to another party’s actions. Often, it is pretty simple to isolate a party’s wrong and appropriately remedy the situation. However, in accidents like the one we have here, the fault is more attenuated and stems from actions taken years before the accident occurred.
Under product defect law, auto manufacturers are held accountable for the death of victims caused by faults in the manufacturing process. While we cannot firmly conclude that the Tesla in this accident was subject to a faulty design or defect, it is clear something went wrong with the mechanical integrity of the vehicle. Electric engines are closed systems, and the repair and maintenance of the vehicle rests wholly on skilled professionals. When there is a mechanical failure, that failure is generally outside the control of the vehicle’s operator.
It is important that this accident undergoes a detailed investigation to determine precisely what caused this Tesla to break down. If a design defect underlies this accident, the same deficiency will cause similar accidents with similar results. Uncovering the flaw will prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
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