HARRIS COUNTY, TX. (THECOUNT) — Dr. William Varner, departed his home with another individual saying they planned on testing the autopilot feature of the doomed Tesla, a witness said on Tuesday.
The unidentified witnesses told the police that the accident happened shortly after the anesthesiologist and another victim left the Spring, Texas estate, saying they planned on testing the Tesla automated driving capability.
Varner, 59, and another unidentified man, were killed near Spring, Texas, when the Tesla they were traveling in crashed into a tree. The accident made national headlines after local officials said it appeared no one was seated in the driver cockpit at the time of the wreck.
The crash occurred near the doctor’s Hammock Dunes Pl residence in Spring around 11:25 p.m. Friday.
According to reports, the Tesla was traveling at a high rate of speed when it failed to navigate a turn and exited the roadway on Friday night. The vehicle then made contact with a tree and burst into flames.
A family member of one of the victims said that the resulting fire took firefighters four hours to extinguish as the Tesla batteries kept “reigniting.”
The identity of the other victim had not been released as of Tuesday morning.
It’s not clear whether the car’s driver-assist system was being used.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said authorities are certain that no one was in the driver seat at the time of the crash.
“They feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle,” Herman told KHOU-TV.
Tesla reps did not immediately comment on the wreck. Elon Musk later later commented saying Tesla data showed Autopilot was not engaged at the time of the crash.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Geo quick facts: Harris County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas, located in the southeastern part of the state near Galveston Bay. As of the 2010 census, the population was 4,092,459, making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States – Wikipedia.