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Colorado State Patrol wraps up investigation into fatal Evergreen Tesla crash, fire

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Feb 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-26 17:59:18-05

EVERGREEN, Colo. — After more than eight months of investigating, the Colorado State Patrol has finished its investigation into a May 2022 Tesla crash and subsequent fire in Evergreen that killed one person.

Hans Von Ohain, 33, died at the scene after his 2021 Tesla Model 3 went off the road, slammed into a tree and caught fire. A passenger made it out of the car, but Von Ohain was unable to exit the Tesla.

“The death of Mr. Von Ohain was tragic,” Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Rob Madden said.

What’s still unknown is why Von Ohain could not get out of the car and if the car was using an auto-drive function at the time of the crash.

The CSP investigator writes in the report, “I am unable to conclusively determine why (Von Ohain) did not exit the vehicle.”

As for the auto-drive function, Madden said due the remote location of the crash and the fire, investigators were unable to obtain any electronic data from the car. They did, however, determine that Von Ohain had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.264, which is more than three times the legal limit.

“The driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol, and his driving actions caused his death,” Madden said. “That is difficult to say because he has a grieving family.”

Madden stressed that everyone who owns and drives an electric vehicle should read the manual and know how to get out of the car if the electronics fail.

“This is a lesson we can all learn from,” he said.

Denver7 Investigates previously reported on this crash last year and discovered multiple examples of fires after electric cars were involved in crashes and drivers and passengers having trouble exiting the car.

“I think your story is a great example of what is needed to change the public intelligence on the new vehicles that are being sold in the United States,” Madden said. “These vehicles are very intelligent. That requires additional thought on how to use the car.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating Tesla’s automated driving system. Earlier this month, after pressure from NHTSA, Tesla announced a recall of more than 350,000 of its vehicles with “full driving” or “auto drive system.” The recall is a software update because NHTSA says the current software allows vehicles to exceed the speed limit or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner.

While it’s not proven that the auto-drive function played a role in Von Ohain’s crash, his vehicle would have been part of that recall.