Saturday, May 21, 2022

Speeding Tesla crashes, gets airborne through Columbus convention center entrance

Newly released footage shows a speeding Tesla Model 3 that crashed last week through an entrance of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Though the accident took place in Ohio’s capital a week ago, security camera video was released only yesterday. One thing’s for sure, it’s amazing that no one was seriously hurt.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the car ran a red light at around 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 4. As video shows, the car speeds past a red light at at T intersection, traveling at what police say was about 70 mph. It plows into a crash barrier planter, spraying a cloud of dirt and launching the Tesla airborne.

As it happens, the entrance of the convention center is a few steps below street level, causing the car to soar through the air in spectacular fashion before it bursts through the building like the Kool-Aid Man. Inside, a support column catches the flying EV, twirling it 180 degrees before bringing it to a halt.

The driver, identified as 63-year-old Frantz Jules, is tremendously lucky that the surprisingly sturdy column prevented the car from barreling further into the convention center. According to the Dispatch, the convention center was in use at the time by several different organizations, including a girls junior volleyball championship.

It’s also a testament to the safety structure of the Tesla that the passenger compartment appears to be intact despite the violent offset crash. From what we can see in the video, the pillar does not appear to have caused intrusion into the cabin.

The Dispatch further reports that Jules told police he he had “lost control of his brakes” Ohio Route 315, a nearby freeway. He exited at the Neil Avenue exit, which funnels directly toward the convention center. There was no mention of whether the car’s Autopilot was in use. The newspaper also reports that three witnesses told authorities that the car appeared to speed up in order to beat the red light.

Though it’s not quite the full send that caused another recent Tesla crash, but a fatal crash under similar circumstances took place in 2019 where a Los Angeles-area freeway funnels into into surface streets. In that case, Autopilot was engaged right before the collision, leading some to surmise that the software didn’t recognize that the highway had ended. Just last month, a Tesla crashed into a small aircraft at an aviation trade show. While Autopilot can recognize lane markers, other vehicles, and pedestrians, a plane on an open stretch of pavement is probably not something it expected to encounter.

The Dispatch says that repairs to the convention center could cost between $250,000 and $350,000. It’s too bad the Arnold Schwarzenegger statue, located mere feet from the crash site, was unable to save the day.

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