A Broward County family is suing electric car maker Tesla after a deadly crash.
Eighteen-year-old Barrett Riley died last year in Fort Lauderdale after his Tesla burst into flames after the high-speed crash, and this week, his parents sued Tesla. The lawsuit filed in California claims Tesla removed a speed-limiting feature on the car without their permission, and alleges the company was negligent for not taking steps to reduce the risk of fire. Fire fighters and paramedics were unable to use the jaws of life to extricate Riley and his friend for fear of being electrocuted.
The Riley’s are alleging in their lawsuit that Tesla failed to fireproof the car’s battery to protect against a fire engulfing the Tesla, but chose not to install it.
Adding that the airbag protected their son from significant injury, but then he burned to death. They hope their suit will convince Tesla to fix the batteries in its vehicles.
The lawsuit says “Barrett Riley was essentially uninjured by the impact; he was killed by the extraordinarily hot and intense fire that started in the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery cells.”
The family alleges in the lawsuit that they asked Tesla to put a speed limiting device on the car after Barrett got a speeding ticket for driving more than 110 miles an hour about two months prior to the fatal crash. The device was installed but the lawsuit claims that Tesla later removed the device after it was taken in for service in Dania Beach.
The lawsuit says “the speed limiter was removed without their consent or permission. Outrageously, TESLA never told the Riley’s that it had done so — until after the fatal accident.”
It’s a decision that still baffles Jim Riley, Barrett’s father.
“We need to understand why would they take it off, one, and, two, if they did take it off, why would they take it off without disclosing it?” Riley told CBS4 News.
The NTSB determined that Barrett Riley was driving more than 115 miles per hour three seconds prior to losing control and hitting a wall on A1A near Fort Lauderdale Beach.
A passenger in the car, Edgar Monserratt, 18, also died.
Another passenger, Alexander Berry, was thrown from the car and survived.
The car quickly burst into flames.
Jim Riley said people tried to help but couldn’t open the doors because of problems with the Tesla’s door handles.
After the crash, Telsa did put software in their cars to allow owners to set speed limits. They named that feature after Barrett Riley.
The NTSB is investigating the crash and the ability of firefighters to fight these types of battery fires.