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Fatal crash involving Tesla ploughing into fire engine draws inquiry

A fatal crash on a Northern California freeway in which a Tesla ploughed into a firetruck, killing one and critically injuring another, has drawn inquiry from the US transport authority.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Monday that it has sought more information from the electric car manufacturer following the vehicle crash, Bloomberg reported.

On Saturday, a Tesla rammed into a fire truck that was parked on a Northern California freeway to shield a crew that was clearing another accident.

The car reportedly had to be cut open to remove the passenger, who was found to be critically injured, and the driver was declared dead at the scene.

The four firefighters in the truck were treated for minor injuries, the Contra Costa County fire department said, sharing photos of the incident.

“Slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles. Truck 1 was struck by a Tesla while blocking I-680 lanes from a previous accident,” the Contra Costa County Fire department tweeted on Saturday.

“Driver pronounced dead on-scene; passenger was extricated and transported to hospital,” it added.

It remains unclear what information the NHTSA has asked from Tesla about the incident.

Tesla did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Lane said earlier that it remained unclear whether the car driver was intoxicated or if the Tesla Model S was operating with automation or driving assistance features, the Associated Press reported.

The NHSTA is already investigating how Tesla’s autopilot system detects and responds to vehicles parked on highways and has opened dozens of special inquiries into Tesla car crashes where Autopilot was suspected of being used.

In 2021, after the NHTSA initiated an investigation into about a dozen Tesla crashes with first responder vehicles, the electric car company deployed over-the-air updates to its cars to improve their ability to detect emergency vehicles.

The Tesla Model S was also among the nearly 363,000 vehicles the company recalled on Thursday due to potential flaws in its “Full Self-Driving” (FDS) system, which despite its name, does not render the vehicles completely autonomous.

The US Department of Justice has also initiated an inquiry into Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD, likely as part of a criminal investigation into the electric vehicle manufacturer.