Just in time for the Fourth of July, a man allegedly stole a Tesla Models S from a dealership and led police on an up-to 100-mph chase in downtown LA ending with the car being split in two, and firework-like flames.
Several cars suffered damage, and at least six people were reported injured, including four in a Honda Civic hit by the Tesla, at least one of which was critically injured. The Tesla driver is reportedly dead, but an official statement has not yet been given.
UPDATE: 1:11 PST – Contrary to reports that the driver is dead, Sgt. Morien of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department says the driver is still alive; listed in critical condition.
The ordeal took place in the wee-hours of the morning, and began with a phone call to police by Tesla store personnel saying someone was “tampering or messing with” a Model S.
The perpetrator somehow got the car, and police gave chase into the downtown area beginning at around 12:45 a.m., according to Sgt. Campbell with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division.
As reported by KTLA 5 news, the pursuit at high speed ended when the Model S hit a pole, was cut in two, and sent bits of its battery pack on the roadway which began to flame and pop with small explosions “just like fireworks,” said one witness.
The front half of the Model S also landed on a white Civic, and the back half went several yards and was wedged against a building in the West Hollywood area.
“There were fires after that that broke out,” said a witness. “I saw the firefighters — like 25 firefighters – standing around the white car with the Jaws of Life.”
Injuries include the unidentified driver of the Tesla who was ejected through the windshield, and who was later declared dead according to reports – which were later denied by the Sheriff’s department investigating the incident.
There were five people inside the Civic the Tesla slammed into, four of which had various injuries.
Two Los Angeles Police Department officers also said they were injured after they crashed out of the chase, but later were released from the hospital with no injuries.
Others remain in the hospital, and the whole incident is under investigation by the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department.