A DAD-OF-FIVE died in his crashed Tesla after the vehicle’s electronic door handles allegedly didn’t pop out, meaning rescuers couldn’t save him from the flames, a lawsuit claims.
Dr. Omar Awan, 48, died in February 2019 after crashing his Model S in Broward County, Florida.
He survived the initial impact but his family have now sued Elon Musk‘s car company, claiming the doctor’s death as a result of burning and smoke inhalation could have been avoided were it not for the Tesla‘s door handles.
Tesla’s vehicles have special door handles which sit flush to the car’s body.
They retract into the vehicle while it is moving, but can pop out when it stops to let people get inside.
After the crash, the initial rescuers on the scene were unable to gain entry after being confused by the car’s door handles, which hadn’t popped out, NBC6 reported.
First responders then arrived on the scene, and were also left stumped, it’s reported.
Teslas are designed to have two back-up safety mechanisms.
A Davie Police officer investigating the crash said he asked an expert at Tesla about the door handles and was told they are supposed to automatically come out “in the event of a crash and do reliably in minor to moderate crashes” but the officer wrote: “they did not in this crash.”
According to the report, the expert also explained: “the handles … are electronic and would not operate if power is abruptly cut in the vehicle,” adding “there is a mechanical back-up in place that can only be accessed from the inside of the vehicle, which it’s why the company gives training to first responders to break the window and open the vehicle from the inside.”
As neither happened, Awan’s family insist his 2016 model car was faulty.
According to the police report, Awan was speeding at the time of the crash, with his car going around 79mph.
The report also said he was found to be over the drink-drive limit.
Tesla has denied the claims made in the lawsuit, says the car was functioning perfectly, and alleges that Awan was to blame for his own death.
But his family are standing firm, and insisting he could have been saved were it not for the car’s door handles, which they insist did not function properly.
Awan’s wife Lianna told NBC South Florida at the time: “He could have been saved. He could have been here. He could have been with us, with his children.
“He was only 48. We have little kids…this was the prime of his life.
A police spokesperson told the news organisation: “They couldn’t find a door knob to try to go in that way and unfortunately were not able to extract the driver.
“They attempted to break the window in order to get the subject out, but were not successful. The flames were too strong, too big at that point.”
The Sun Online has reached out to Tesla for comment.