Tesla, firetruck wreck that killed Prescott Valley woman part of US probe
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A U.S. government safety team will investigate the collision that killed a young Prescott Valley woman after a Tesla electric vehicle crashed into a parked firetruck in Indiana.
Jenna N. Monet, of Prescott Valley was a passenger in the 2019 Tesla Model 3 when it crashed into the back of a firetruck parked in the passing lane on Interstate 70 near Cloverdale the morning of Dec 29.
The car was driven by her husband, Derrick N. Money, 25, who was seriously injured.
The firetruck had its emergency lights on, Indiana State Police said.
Investigators have not yet been able to determine if the Tesla's Autopilot feature was activated at the time of the collision.
Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Matt Ames confirmed Thursday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the crash. Indiana State Police will also continue to investigate.
WHAT IS TESLA AUTOPILOT?
Tesla Autopilot is an advanced driver-assistance system designed to keep a safe distance from other vehicles by allowing the car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically. The system can provide lane centering and lane changes, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, the ability navigate autonomously on limited access freeways as well as the ability to summon the car to and from a garage or parking spot.
Tesla has said repeatedly that the Autopilot system is intended for use with "a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment."
The I-70 Indiana crash is the second fatal accident to be investigated by NHTSA in the past two weeks. The special crash investigation program is also looking into another Dec. 29 crash in which a Tesla Model S sedan left a freeway in Gardena, California, at a high speed and ran a red light. The vehicle hit a Honda Civic, killing two people inside, police said.
NHTSA’s crash investigation program has inspected 23 crashes involving vehicles believed to have been operating on some form of driver assist system. Fourteen involved Tesla models. In one of two completed NHTSA reports — a fatal May 2016 crash in Florida — the agency determined, "Their use still required the full and continual attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment, maintain ultimate control of the vehicle, and remain prepared to take evasive action."
The NHTSA’s program, which investigates more than 100 crashes each year, will review the Indiana crash scene, police reports, interview witnesses and inspect the Monet's vehicle.
CAUSE STILL UNKNOWN
State Police ruled out drugs and alcohol as possible factors in the crash that killed Jenna.
According to Ames, it is not yet known if the autopilot function on the Monet's Tesla was in use at the time of the crash. Derrick Monet, an active duty U.S. Air Force service member, told investigators he regularly uses his Tesla’s autopilot mode, but that “due to the impact of the accident he cannot recall whether or not he had it on at the time of the accident,” police said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the Monet Family to help with funeral costs at, gofundme.com/monetfamily.