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Two men died on Saturday night when a 2019 Tesla Model S driving at high speed failed to negotiate a curve on a windy road in Spring, Texas.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said in an interview that, based on a preliminary investigation, there was no evidence anyone was at the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the crash.
"Our preliminary investigation is determining—but it's not complete yet—that there was no one at the wheel of that vehicle. We're almost 99.9% sure," the constable said, per the Wall Street Journal.
The National Transportation Safety Board's chairman, Robert L. Sumwalt, has also criticized Tesla on a number of occasions for their lack of compliance with regulators regarding self-driving tech.
In a 2020 NTSB meeting, Sumwalt said, "It is foreseeable that some drivers will attempt to inappropriately use driving automation systems. To counter this possibility, in 2017 we issued 2 recommendations to 6 automobile manufacturers. Five manufacturers responded favorably that they were working to implement these recommendations. Tesla ignored us."
Just last week, Ford's CEO also took a shot at Tesla on Twitter when announcing his company's driverless tech, saying "BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don't have to."
Despite the recent crash, NHTSA investigations, and criticism from the competition, Tesla's recent safety report shows its cars are some of the safest on the road.
In the first quarter of 2021, Tesla registered one accident for every 4.19 million miles driven when Autopilot was engaged. For comparison, The NHTSA's most recent data shows there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles on average in the US.
Even with a strong safety record, high-profile crashes like this one usually hurt Tesla's stock.
The bearish fatal crash news also comes as Cathie Wood, one of Tesla's biggest supporters, continues to sell shares.
Wood's flagship exchange-traded fund, the ARK Innovation ETF, sold some 272,427 shares of Tesla last week. While Wood's ARK Next Generation Internet ETF sold an additional 104,869 shares of the electric car maker.
As of Monday's intraday high, the shares were worth roughly $271 million.
Tesla's stock was down 4.12% as of 2:51 p.m. ET on Monday.
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