Parents sue Tesla over fiery 116mph crash that killed two Florida teens

The parents of a Florida teenager who was killed when a Telsa sedan crashed and burst into flames last year are suing the electric car company alleging that the battery pack on its electric Model S is defective and can erupt into intense fires.

Edgar Monserratt and Esperanza Martinez de Monserratt allege in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Broward County Circuit Court that the car’s battery was inadequately protected, making the whole vehicle defective.

Their son, Edgar Monserratt Martinez, 18, was a front-seat passenger in the May 8, 2018 crash in Fort Lauderdale that also killed the driver, Barrett Riley, also 18. Another teen was thrown from the car and injured.

‘The Tesla S sedan had inadequate measures to prevent a post-collision fire and had inadequate measures to contain a fire,’ said Chicago attorney Philip Corboy Jr, one of the attorneys representing the parents.

Corboy also alleges that Riley’s parents had a device installed on the 2014 Tesla that limited its speed to 85 miles per hour after he was ticketed in March for driving 112 mph. 

The device was installed at a Tesla service center but removed during a subsequent service visit without the parents’ knowledge, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit accuses Tesla of negligence and seeks damages of more than $15,000.

Edgar Monserratt and Esperanza Martinez de Monserratt, the parents of a Florida teenager who was killed when a Telsa sedan crashed and burst into flames last year, filed a lawsuit against the electric car company on Tuesday in Broward County, alleging that the battery pack on its electric Model S is defective and caused the vehicle to catch fire

Edgar Monserratt and Esperanza Martinez de Monserratt, the parents of a Florida teenager who was killed when a Telsa sedan crashed and burst into flames last year, filed a lawsuit against the electric car company on Tuesday in Broward County, alleging that the battery pack on its electric Model S is defective and caused the vehicle to catch fire

Edgar Monserratt and Esperanza Martinez de Monserratt, the parents of a Florida teenager who was killed when a Telsa sedan crashed and burst into flames last year, filed a lawsuit against the electric car company on Tuesday in Broward County, alleging that the battery pack on its electric Model S is defective and caused the vehicle to catch fire

Their son Edgar Monserratt Martinez (above) was a passenger and his friend Barrett Riley was driving when the Tesla crashed and burst into flames in Fort Lauderdale on May 8, 2018

Their son Edgar Monserratt Martinez (above) was a passenger and his friend Barrett Riley was driving when the Tesla crashed and burst into flames in Fort Lauderdale on May 8, 2018

Barrett Riley (above) was driving the Tesla when it crashed

Barrett Riley (above) was driving the Tesla when it crashed

Their son Edgar Monserratt Martinez (left) was a passenger and his friend Barrett Riley (right) was driving when the Tesla crashed and burst into flames in Fort Lauderdale on May 8, 2018. Both 18-year-olds, who were just weeks away from graduating from an affluent prep school, were trapped in the vehicle and burned to death in the crash

The lawsuit claims that the 2014 Tesla Model S that Riley was driving burst into flames because the battery was not adequately protected. The fiery crash is seen above

The lawsuit claims that the 2014 Tesla Model S that Riley was driving burst into flames because the battery was not adequately protected. The fiery crash is seen above

The lawsuit claims that the 2014 Tesla Model S that Riley was driving burst into flames because the battery was not adequately protected. The fiery crash is seen above

According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash and others involving Tesla vehicles and fires, the Model S was traveling 116 mph three seconds before it crashed into a concrete wall, and it only slowed to 86 mph as the air bags inflated.

The car missed a curve with a 25mph speed limit and hit the wall twice, and witnesses reported that it erupted in flames.

Alexander Berry (above), who was sitting in the backseat, was ejected from the vehicle and hospitalized with serious injuries

Alexander Berry (above), who was sitting in the backseat, was ejected from the vehicle and hospitalized with serious injuries

Alexander Berry (above), who was sitting in the backseat, was ejected from the vehicle and hospitalized with serious injuries

Riley and Martinez were trapped inside the car as it burned. 

A third teen in the backseat, Alexander Berry, was ejected from the car. He was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center. 

A neighbor who lives in the area told NBC6 that he arrived to the scene seconds after the crash but the flames were too intense and he was not able to help the trapped teens. 

 ‘It’s bad,’ the man is heard saying on a cell phone video he took at the scene as police and rescue workers arrived. ‘Can’t get them out. Come on, we gotta do something guys. Oh my God.’ 

One resident, Wendy Mascolo, told television stations she witnessed the crash and stayed with several teens who had been following in a separate vehicle until their parents arrived.

News outlets report that Riley and Martinez were students at Pine Crest, a $31,930-a-year private school in Fort Lauderdale. They were just weeks away from graduation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board released the photo above of Riley's crumpled and charred Model S following its investigation last summer 

The National Transportation Safety Board released the photo above of Riley's crumpled and charred Model S following its investigation last summer 

The National Transportation Safety Board released the photo above of Riley’s crumpled and charred Model S following its investigation last summer 

Victim Edgar Monserratt Martinez (left) is pictured with his father Edgar Monserratt (right), the CEO of an investment firm in Miami

Victim Edgar Monserratt Martinez (left) is pictured with his father Edgar Monserratt (right), the CEO of an investment firm in Miami

Victim Edgar Monserratt Martinez (left) is pictured with his father Edgar Monserratt (right), the CEO of an investment firm in Miami

‘Our thoughts continue to be with the families affected by this tragedy,’ Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said in a statement. 

‘Unfortunately, no car could have withstood a high-speed crash of this kind.’

The company noted that last year it introduced ‘Speed Limit Mode,’ which allows Tesla owners to limit their car’s speed and acceleration, and dedicated the feature to Barrett Riley.

Witnesses told investigators the Tesla driver went into the left lane to pass another vehicle and lost control while trying to return to the right lane. 

At the crash site on Seabreeze Boulevard, the road curves to the left, and there’s a 25 mph warning sign with a flashing beacon.

The Tesla’s lithium-ion battery reignited twice after firefighters extinguished the flames, once as the car was being loaded for removal from the scene and again in a storage yard.

Batteries like those used by Tesla and other electric cars can catch fire and burn rapidly in a crash, although Tesla has maintained its vehicles catch fire far less often than those powered by gasoline. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the Fort Lauderdale crash and others involving Tesla vehicle fires. A Model S like the one Riley was driving is pictured

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the Fort Lauderdale crash and others involving Tesla vehicle fires. A Model S like the one Riley was driving is pictured

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the Fort Lauderdale crash and others involving Tesla vehicle fires. A Model S like the one Riley was driving is pictured

Previous Tesla fires 

Following a series of fires in 2013, Tesla began outfitting new cars with a triple underbody shield to bring the risk of fire down to ‘virtually zero,’ according to a March 2014 blog post written by Chief Executive Elon Musk.

Here is a list of incidents of Tesla vehicles catching fire since 2013:

October 1, 2013 – A Tesla Model S caught fire near Seattle, after the car collided with a large piece of metal debris on the road that punched a hole through the protective armor plating. The driver was not injured. 

October 2013 – A Tesla car crashed through a concrete wall and hit a tree, catching fire in Merida, Mexico. The driver was not injured. 

November 2013 – A Tesla Model S caught fire after the electric car ran over a tow hitch that hit the undercarriage of the vehicle, in Smyrna, Tennessee. The driver was not injured. 

February 2014 – A Tesla Model S caught fire in Toronto, Canada, with the fire originating in the engine area. There were no injuries. 

March 2014 – Following the fires, Tesla cars were outfitted with a triple underbody shield to bring the risk of fire down to ‘virtually zero’, following the car fires of 2013, Elon Musk said in a blog post on March 28, 2014. 

July 2014 – A stolen Tesla Model S crashed into several vehicles and split in half after striking a light pole in West Hollywood, catching fire and leaving the driver in a critical condition, two officers hospitalized and half of the car wedged in a synagogue. 

June 2015 – A 2013 Tesla plunged off a cliff along Malibu Canyon Road, and caught fire killing the 53-year-old driver. 

August 2016 – A Tesla electric car caught fire during a promotional tour in southwest France. No one was injured in the incident. 

November 2016 – A Tesla vehicle crashed into a tree and burst into flames in Indianapolis, killing the driver and the passenger.

March 2017 – A Tesla Model S caught fire at the Jinqiao Supercharger Station in Shanghai, China. No one was harmed in the incident. 

August 2017 – A Tesla vehicle went off road in Lake Forest, California and crashed into a home, igniting a garage fire. The driver in the Tesla was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

October 2017 – A Tesla Model S caught fire in Austria, after the driver crashed into a concrete barrier at the side of the road. The driver survived the crash. 

March 2018 – A Tesla Model X crashed and caught fire near Mountain View, California. The crash involved two other cars resulting in the death of the 38-year-old Tesla driver at a nearby hospital shortly after the crash.

May 2018 – A 2014 Tesla Model S drove off the road and hit a concrete wall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, immediately catching fire killing two teenagers and injuring another. 

December 2018 – A three-month old Tesla Model S catches on fire in a repair garage in California

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