Fatal Autopilot: Tesla Driver Charged with Vehicular Homicide in Motorcyclist’s Death


A Washington man was arrested and charged with vehicular murder after a Tesla on autopilot mode crashed into a motorcyclist killing him.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the crash occurred around 3:45 pm on Friday in Maltby.

In court documents, the Tesla Model S driver identified as Carl Hunter (56 years old) told first responders that the vehicle was in autopilot and “lurched” forward when it accelerated, colliding with the motorcycle ahead of him.

Jeff Nissen, a 28-year-old motorcyclist from Stanwood, Washington, was declared dead at the accident site. Investigators believe he was ejected off the bike and then run over by a Tesla.

“Jeff was a wonderful person and a great uncle. Jenessa Fagerlie, Nissen’s younger sister, said that Nissen loved his nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. “We hoped someday he would be able to have children, but he was taken far too soon.”

Nissen, who would have been 29 years old in June, was a sprightly young man. Fagerlie reported that her brother had hugged her and told her to love her when she last saw him.

According to court documents, the Tesla driver admitted that he had a drink before the accident but passed the field and blood tests. The crash was attributed to distracted driving by detectives, as the driver had been using his cell phone at the time.

Tesla offers Model S, Model 3, and Model X owners a 30-day free trial to “experience the latest Full Self Driving (Supervised).” This is according to Tesla’s website.

The latest software upgrade, version 12.3 and later was used to launch the trial. Tesla owners can access the trial in both the U.S.A. and Canada.

Tesla’s app tells users that Full Self-Driving can be used to drive the Tesla anywhere under your supervision. It will navigate around objects and other vehicles, make left- and right-hand turns, make lane changes, and select forks to follow the navigation route.

The company advises drivers to “use extra caution” and remain “attentive” when using the feature. The company adds that the vehicles are not “autonomous,” and drivers shouldn’t become “complacent.”

The driver of the car involved in the accident may have paid for or used the trial service.

Fagerlie told drivers to put their phones away. The fewer distractions the better. “You must still pay attention to the road.”