A Tesla battery powered car that crashed, burst into flames and burned its driver beyond recognition Sunday evening along Flamingo Road in Davie repeatedly caught fire after being brought to the tow yard used by police, officials said Monday.
The 4-door 2016 Tesla Model S was northbound near the 1300 block of S. Flamingo Road shortly before 4:30 p.m. Sunday when “the vehicle left the roadway for unknown reasons,” police said.
The car swerved through three lanes of traffic, hit a median and some trees and burst into flames, killing the driver, identified by Davie police as Omar Awan.
A Davie police officer got to the scene, a little south of Interstate 595 almost immediately after the crash and found the car fully consumed by fire. “Efforts to extract the driver were unsuccessful,” Davie Police Sgt. Mark Leone said Monday morning.
Awan died at the scene and because of the extent of his burn injuries the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating to confirm his identity.
According to police, Awan’s wife was tracking his whereabouts by cellphone and got to the crash scene during the investigation.
Witnesses told officers that the Tesla appeared to be traveling between 75 and 90 mph when the crash happened and initial evidence from the scene appears to confirm that, Leone said.
The Tesla was eventually towed to A Superior Towing on Southwest 66th Terrace in Davie where fire crews were called out at least three times during the overnight hours.
“We have a problem where the car keeps catching fire because the battery pack itself hasn’t drained yet,” said Davie Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Robert Diferdinando.
The car’s battery pack is essentially the size of the car’s undercarriage and because it still has power it dries everything and keeps catching fire, Diferdinando explained.
“We’ve been in touch with their [Tesla’s] South Florida division. Their giving us helpful tips and information. Right now, we’re doing literally what Tesla wants us to to.” he said.
Crews used foam and water to put out the fire and late Monday morning were waiting on a special fire extinguisher from Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue that’s especially made for combustible metals.
There is a “post-crash potential” of fire if a battery cell is punctured, “just like there would be post-crash with a gas tank,” industry analyst Karl Brauer told the South Florida Sun Sentinel last year. Fire is possible in any vehicle accident, which causes sparks and heat, he added.
In May, Barrett Riley, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, and Edgar Monserratt Martinez, 18, of Aventura, were killed when the 2014 Tesla Model S crashed and caught fire. Injured was Alexander Berry, 18, of Fort Lauderdale, who was thrown from the burning wreck.
Tesla dedicated to Riley a new speed control feature that allows drivers to limit the car’s speed between 50 mph and 90 mph. Riley was traveling at 116 mph in a Tesla Model S, investigators said.
Staff photographer Joe Cavaretta contributed to this report.
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Driver killed as Tesla bursts into flames after hitting tree