The 53-year-old driver of a Tesla Model S electric car died Wednesday when the vehicle smashed into a tree in the central Dutch town of Baarn and burst into flames, police and firefighters said.
Police are investigating the cause of the early morning accident in the town 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Amsterdam and Tesla said in a statement it is helping.
“Technical personnel are on the scene, and we are working with the authorities to establish the facts of the incident and offer our full cooperation,” said the automaker based in Palo Alto, California. “We are deeply saddened to hear that this accident involved a fatality. We will share our findings as soon as possible following the investigation.”
Ronald Boer, a spokesman for emergency services, said in a telephone interview that firefighters did not immediately recover the man’s body because of fears that emergency service workers could be electrocuted.
“The car was so badly damaged that the firefighters could not operate its security systems,” he said.
Boer said it was not immediately clear if the driver was using the car’s autopilot system.
Autopilot is a semi-autonomous driving system that uses cameras, radar and computers to spot objects in front of the car and stop it if there is a danger of a collision. Tesla says it is a driver assist system and the human driver must be ready to take control at any time.
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