Memorial Hermann doctor identified as 1 of 2 killed in fiery Tesla crash in The Woodlands

Jeff Ehling Image
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Memorial Hermann doctor identified as victim in Tesla crash
Elon Musk cited a safety report, claiming a Tesla with Autopilot engaged has a nearly 10 times lower chance of accident than the average vehicle.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (KTRK) -- Federal safety regulators have sent a team to investigate a fiery Tesla crash that left a Memorial Hermann doctor and an engineer dead near The Woodlands.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, is now weighing in on the investigation.

It is the biggest question investigators have right now: What happened in the moments before the 2019 Tesla Model S ran into a tree and killed two people?

The crash killed 59-year-old Dr. William Varner and his 69-year-old friend.

After the fire was put out, officials said one victim was in the passenger seat and the other was in the back seat.

The details are leading many to wonder if the car was in self-driving mode.

Musk sent out a tweet about the crash.

READ MORE: Elon Musk claims autopilot was not used in fiery Tesla crash that killed 2 people in The Woodlands

Investigators want to know how one of Tesla's vehicles wound up crashing into a tree after they found no one was in the driver's seat when it happened.

"Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled and this car did not purchase FSD," Musk tweeted. "Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have."

FSD stands for "full self driving capability."

Musk then responded to another tweet from an account that read, "100 people died in the United States today in car accidents... This happens every day. Where is the outrage? Autopilot/FSD is an attempt to solve this once and for all."

Musk responded with the word "Exactly."

Musk also took to Twitter to share some results from Tesla's 2021 Q1 safety report, claiming "Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle."

Precinct 4, the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are all looking into the crash.

Local officials insist there was no one in the driver's seat of the car at the time of the crash.

"Certainly this morning, our investigation certainly feels there was no one in front of that vehicle while it was traveling," Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said after the crash.

Overnight, Memorial Hermann released a statement on the death of Dr. Varner:

"Dr. Varner was a tremendous human being who personally impacted many throughout our Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center family over the years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family, and also to those who had the privilege of working and serving alongside him in various capacities. He will be dearly missed by so many."

Tesla's stock fell nearly three and a half percent Monday following news of the crash.

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