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“A Horrifying Experience”: Lawyer For Driver Of Model S Plaid That Spontaneously Combusted Speaks Out

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Days ago we wrote about how a Tesla Model S Plaid in the suburbs of Philadelphia was witnessed to be rolling down a street, engulfed in flames, before exploding. At the time, the cause of the accident and the well-being of the driver were both unknown. 

Today, the owner of the vehicle’s lawyer is speaking out, claiming the vehicle “burst into flames while the owner was driving” it, according to a new report by Reuters

The driver of the vehicle has been identified as an “executive entrepreneur” who is being represented by Mark Geragos, of Geragos & Geragos.

Geragos said that the driver wasn’t initially able to get out of the vehicle because its “electronic door system failed”, requiring the driver to push and use force to open the door.

He said the car moved for 35 to 40 feet before “turning into a fireball”. He called it a “harrowing and horrifying experience”.

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“This is a brand new model… We are doing an investigation. We are calling for the S Plaid to be grounded, not to be on the road until we get to the bottom of this,” Geragos said. 

A separate source reported that the Tesla belonged to a top executive at one of Tesla’s biggest investors. The driver was identified in that report as Bart Smith, also called the “Crypto King” by CNBC, who works as the head of the digital asset group at trading firm Susquehanna International.

Susquehanna owned about $1.1 billion worth of Tesla shares as of March 31, the report noted. 

Recall, last week we pointed out pro-Tesla blog electrek’s coverage of the incident, where they noted that the vehicle had caught fire under what it called “strange circumstances”. 

The incident took place in Haverford, Pennsylvania and the the Gladwyne fire department responded to the scene. They released the following statement during the middle of the week last week: 

“Gladwyne Firefighters responding to the 100 block of Rose Lane last night just before 9pm to assist Station 25 (Merion Fire Company of Ardmore) with a vehicle fire. While enroute to the call Chief 25 was advised that the reports were that a Tesla was on fire and it was well involved in fire. Engine 24 with a crew of 7 arrived on scene simultaneously with Engine 25. Due to prior training classes on Tesla Vehicle Fire emergencies, Engine 24 laid a 5 inch supply line into the scene so that we could keep a continual water stream on the fire to extinguish the fire and cool the batteries down to ensure complete extinguishment. Engine 24 and Engine 25 both deployed hand lines to extinguish the fire, each maintained a dedicated water source and continued to cool the vehicle down for almost 90 minutes.”

Photographs released by the fire department showed firefighters attempting to put out the blaze, and – as we have seen in many cases of Tesla fires – the charred remains of the vehicle that once was. 

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Attempting to offer up some form of analysis, electrek noted at the time that the “exact circumstances of how the vehicle caught on fire are still unknown”.

But the post also claimed that a witness from Narberth Ambulance, who was working as an EMT in the area and who was on the scene, said that “the call came in from one of the residents of the neighborhood who saw it rolling down the road on fire before exploding in front of their house.”

The blog post then turned on the spin, theorizing a number of potential causes for the fire except for negligence on the behalf of Tesla.

“In this case, the most interesting thing is that the vehicle affected appears to be a brand new Model S Plaid, which is equipped with a new battery pack from Tesla,” electrek editor Fred Lambert wrote, possible unaware of the argument he’s tacitly making. 

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He concluded by stating the blog would wait for more information before drawing conclusions, and then suggests that “even arson” may have played a role in the fire.

We’re sure Mr. Geragos will help you find the narrative going forward, Fred. Tesla has yet to comment further, according to Reuters.