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Florida Highway Patrol investigates cause of deadly Tesla, minivan crash in Martin County

4 people killed in wreck
Tesla crash.PNG
Posted at 4:22 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-20 00:30:10-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Highway Patrol is piecing together Tuesday's violent crash involving a Tesla and minivan in Martin County that killed four people.

The investigation could take weeks, if not longer, but law enforcement said speed looks to be a factor.

The crash scene was splintered in all directions at U.S. 1 and 14th Street, closing the road in both directions for about six hours.

FHP said the Tesla was going south on U.S. 1 and collided with the minivan, which was traveling north on U.S. 1 and making a left turn.    

Minivan involved in deadly crash with Tesla, Oct. 18, 2022
Debris was strewn across U.S. 1 in Martin County after this minivan was hit by a Tesla on Oct. 18, 2022.

RELATED: Witnesses describe fiery Martin County crash that killed 4 people

Witnesses said the Tesla caught fire and the engine block from the minivan was sent some 20 to 30 yards down the road.

"Multiple witnesses came to us and said that the black vehicle (Tesla) was traveling at a high rate of speed just prior to the crash, so there was a lot of witnesses that saw it," Martin County Chief Deputy John Budensiek said.

Debris from the crash was scattered in every direction and far from the point of impact.

"There was debris 300 and something feet south of the crash," Budensiek said. "In fact, the engine of one of the vehicles was 250 feet south of the intersection."

Investigators said two teenagers in the Tesla and a couple in the van all died.

Estevan Sierra, witnessed deadly Tesla, minivan crash in Martin County
Estevan Sierra described the moments when the deadly crash occurred on Tuesday.

"We were sitting here and cutting hair and we heard like a really loud, just a loud bang almost like a semi truck’s tire blowing out just really really loud," witness Estevan Sierra, who works at a nearby barber shop, said. "I didn't think it was a car accident at first because there was no tire screeching no brake. No one braked at all."

Sierra says he and several others in the shop, including a firefighter and a deputy, ran out with fire extinguishers when they saw the Tesla on fire.

"You could hear the hissing from the battery, or whatever it was from the car, and shooting out like shrapnel from the engine," Sierra said.

The braking and speed of the car will likely be what investigators will be focusing on.

An accident reconstruction expert told WPTV that the onboard computer on Teslas are supposed to automatically save information on speed and braking as soon as the airbags are deployed.