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May 18, 2022, 5:09 p.m. EDT

Feds send team to investigate Tesla crash in Southern California that killed 3

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By Associated Press

DETROIT — The U.S. government’s road safety agency has dispatched a team to investigate the possibility that a Tesla involved in a California crash that killed three people was operating on a partially automated driving system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday confirmed that it had sent a special crash investigation team to probe the May 12 crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.

The investigation is part of a larger inquiry by the agency into crashes involving advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla’s /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA +0.02% Autopilot. Since 2016, the agency has sent teams to 34 crashes in which the systems were either in use or suspected of operating. Of the 34, 28 involved Teslas, according to a NHTSA document released Wednesday.

Fifteen people died in the crashes that NHTSA is investigating, and at least 15 more were hurt. Of the deaths, 14 occurred in crashes involving Teslas, the documents say.

In addition to the specific crashes, NHTSA has investigations under way into Teslas on Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles parked along roadways, as well as a probe into Autopilot braking for no apparent reason.

A message was left Wednesday seeking comment from Tesla, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas. NHTSA wouldn’t comment beyond release of the document.

The agency also is investigating two crashes involving Volvos, one Navya shuttle crash, two involving Cadillacs, one in a Lexus and one in a Hyundai. One of the Volvo crashes was an Uber autonomous test vehicle that ran over and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March of 2018.

In the Newport Beach crash, police were called around 12:45 a.m. and found that a 2022 Tesla Model S sedan had crashed into a curb and then hit construction equipment on the south side of the road.

Authorities found two men and a woman dead in the car, and three construction workers suffered minor injuries, according to police.

The Newport Beach Police Department said it brought in its Major Accident Investigation Team.

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